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21st Century Acquisitions

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Nurse Baltimore, 1850

ca. 2005
26 3/16 x 14 3/16 x 13 3/4 in. (66.5 x 36 x 35 cm)

Richard Cleaver
American

Object Type: Sculpture
Medium and Support: Ceramic with oil paint and gilt
Credit Line: Gift of Gerald and Ellen Sigal
Accession Number: 2015.6
Location: Currently on view
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"My sculptures… are made complete with secret compartments which serve as hiding places for multiple and oftentimes personal meanings. My recent work is based on narratives drawn from personal and historical events that are overlapped with subconscious images." ? Richard Cleaver

When contemporary ceramic sculptor Richard Cleaver created Nurse Baltimore, 1850, his studio was located on the original site of Oakland Plantation, a 19th-century farm near Baltimore, Maryland. Nurse Baltimore, 1850 represents Cleaver’s imagined lives and histories of the slave families who lived there, particularly the women who were forced to care for their owners’ children before their own.

In Nurse Baltimore, 1850, Cleaver draws on images of the enthroned Madonna and Child from medieval and Renaissance art, such as those seen in this gallery, to depict both the central figure and the white child that she holds. As he explains, “I tried to show the pain of that by putting a hinge on the white child’s face, so when you open it you see a picture of the slave mother’s own child inside.”

Gallery label, 2015

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