The teenager in magenta sits alone with her headphones, choosing to ignore the adults over their fighting.
The white woman in red is ejected from the black male artists’ studio after trying to join them.
A white teenager in red is comforted from depression by a young black male in green.
At first glance, there seems to be no correlation between these three events, but when looking at the bigger picture all becomes clear. These are all descriptions of the images depicted in Lorraine O’ Grady’s Rivers, First Draft a series of photographs taken from a performance in Central Park. Lorraine O’ Grady is a black female artist, with a background in economics, Spanish literature, government, and music. Her broad background largely influenced her in her critique and art making. Her content is largely political, and focuses on black female subjectivity, using various media to get her message across. Her work is currently on view at the Brooklyn Museum as a part of the exhibit “We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-1985”. Throughout the series there are various connections made between cultures, primarily Caucasian and African‐ American, depicting how they interact with one another at different points in time. Through a child, a teenager, and an adult, Lorraine O’Grady explores important themes relevant to today’s society, including the race barrier and rape. I loved how the piece connected cultures during a certain period of time and separated them at another. As a teenager, the white young woman in red falls in love with the black young male without any objection. However, when the white woman in red tries to join the group of black male artists in yellow, she is ejected, an accurate portrayal as to how separated we as a society are. Although we all live together and share our Earth, many cultures still aren’t accepted among other groups. After being ejected from the group of black male artists, the white woman is encountered with the Debauchees and raped by them while the black male artists continue in their art making. I found this particularly interesting because usually the situation is flipped, with the black female being raped while white people stand by and do nothing. At one point in the series, the teenager in magenta lays on the ground in a fetus position covering her ears, choosing to ignore the adults over their fighting. The white woman in red is ejected by the white woman in gold, causing distress among the teenager in the next frame. The teenager is upset about someone being ejected for a reason unclear to her. This illustrates how ridiculous fighting can be to the point where people choose
to ignore it. Lorraine O’Grady is sending the message that we as a society should simply address the problems we face and find a resolution instead of ignoring them and letting them happen, a message made clear through her work Rivers, First Draft.