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Robert Colescott, American, 1925–2009; Christina's Day Off (Down in the Dumps II), 1983; acrylic on canvas; 84 x 72 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, Gift of Brooke and Carolyn Alexander 213:1993; © Robert Colescott

A woman named Christina poses in front of what appears to be a towering heap of trash. On closer inspection, desirable consumer goods, such as a pink car, are identifiable among the rubbish. The title of this painting refers to American artist Andrew Wyeth’s realist painting Christina’s World from 1948, in which a White woman crawls up a grassy hill toward a barn in the distance. In contrast, Robert Colescott represented Christina as an African American woman standing boldly upright and smiling. A wet paintbrush at Christina’s feet reminds us of the artist’s role in reimagining her story. In this work, Colescott both appropriated and critiqued stereotyped imagery, prompting difficult conversations around ideas of consumerism, race, gender, and desirability.

On view in Gallery 248

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