<i>Benjamin F. Randolph<i>

Benjamin F. Randolph

Mixed media on gun range target paper, 2019

Nicolas Coleman

Durham, NC

My series, Reconstruction and Redemption, is focused on southern black elected officials from the decades following the Civil War until around the end of the 19th century when black Americans were effectively barred from the political process. I aim to ground my portraits in their historical context while using a range of media and more abstract techniques meant to evoke an emotional response that relates the contemporary significance of these characters and stores. For example, in my portrait of Benjamin F. Randolph, a South Carolina State Senator who was assassinated by the Ku Klux Klan, I use a sheet of target paper from a gun range with actual bullet holes in it. My attention to the past is not meant to ignore issues facing black Americans in the present, but rather to make clear that the past is still very much alive.