Yielding to the Ancestors While Controlling the Hands of Time

Copied Lonnie Holley, Yielding to the Ancestors While Controlling the Hands of Time, ca. 1992, oil on wood and metal, 108 1259 1221 34 in. (275.6151.155.2 cm.), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of William Arnett, 1993.1.3

Artwork Details

Yielding to the Ancestors While Controlling the Hands of Time
ca. 1992
Not on view
108 1259 1221 34 in. (275.6151.155.2 cm.)
Credit Line
Gift of William Arnett
Mediums Description
oil on wood and metal
  • Allegory — time
  • Object — art object — sculpture
Object Number

Artwork Description

“I travel around to see,” the artist Lonnie Holley explains. “It’s like walking back in time, to walk along the ocean, the beach, to walk in the sand. I am not trying to find my own footsteps in the sand, but to put my own footsteps where my ancestors might have stepped.”

Holley sees himself as a link connecting his ancestors—brought to America as slaves—to future generations. He explains that he gave this sculpture two heads; one is earthly, the other spiritual. “As we develop our personness, we learn to yield to the ancestors and the history of learning, we develop that inner head, that second head, the keeper head; the embankment of all wisdom.”


Media - 1970.353.1-.116 - SAAM-1970.353.1-.116_9 - 127238
Galleries for Folk and Self-Taught Art
October 21, 2016January 31, 2030
SAAM’s collection of folk and self-taught art represents the powerful vision of America’s untrained and vernacular artists.