Head from a Ball Toss Game

Copied Head from a Ball Toss Game, after 1878, carved and painted wood, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson, 1986.65.301
Free to use

Artwork Details

Title
Head from a Ball Toss Game
Manufacturer
C. W. F. Dare Company
Date
after 1878
Location
Not on view
Dimensions
11 126 788 18 in. (29.217.420.5 cm)
Credit Line
Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson
Mediums
Mediums Description
carved and painted wood
Classifications
Keywords
  • African-American
  • Figure male — head
  • African American
Object Number
1986.65.301

Artwork Description

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