Head from a Ball Toss Game
after 1878 C. W. F. Dare Company (Manufacturer) carved and painted wood 11 1/2 x 6 7/8 x 8 1/8 in. (29.2 x 17.4 x 20.5 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson 1986.65.301 Not currently on view
Props like this carved head were used until the 1930s at Coney Island's Steeplechase Park for a game known as "African Dodger." Originally, players threw balls at a black man and were rewarded for direct hits. Wooden heads eventually replaced live targets. This grotesquely carved head reflects a dark history of racism and objectification.
Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006
Ethnic - African-American
Figure male - head