Return to All Paintings

Built On Their Backs

I never put together two things: how grand and powerful our country became in so few years and how slavery was responsible for that to happen.

The fact that our nation’s success was literally built on the backs of enslaved people is just so clear to me now. I had to turn this huge fact into a painting. The paint literally spilled onto the canvas, turning into fields of tobacco, sugar cane, and cotton. The ghosts whose lives made it possible cried to me as I depicted their sad fates. That they should haunt us all is my desire. And then we must turn that remorse into action and fight for equal justice for all, reparations for those who paid the price for our national success, and restorations for their generational mistreatment and losses.