Works completed before 2015
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"Solomon Northup" / 12" x 16" / acrylic on canvas / 2014
This painting was created for exhibit at the 16th annual Solomon Northup day celebration at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York on July 19, 2014.
As portrayed in the recent Academy Award-winning feature film, Solomon Northup was a free black man who was abducted and sold into slavery in 1841. Northup’s story was told in his memoir, Twelve Years a Slave.
In doing research on Northup's life, I was excited to discover connections to my hometown: Auburn, NY. Notably, Twelve Years a Slave was first published by Derby & Miller of Auburn in 1853. The book initially sold 30,000 copies, making it a best seller at the time. William Seward, who would settle in Auburn, owned a copy of this book. More importantly, then Governor Seward signed a law in 1840 which made it illegal to kidnap free people of color in New York state, and obligated the state to assist in their liberation. This is the law that would later enable Northup’s rescue from slavery in 1853.