Cotton Pickers

During Spring Break, my boyfriend and I visited the Dallas Museum of Art. Surprisingly, this was my first time, which I find astonishing because I have only lived in the D/FW my entire life. We enjoy visiting museums and when we visit museums we pay special attention to the art of Texas artist. Otis Dozier is an artist who I have heard of on numerous occasions, and this piece of art by him titled “Cotton Pickers” really spoke to me. I immediately thought of Langston Hughes’ poem, “Let America Be Great Again”. In the poem he talks about the lack of freedom for he and his African-American counterparts, and how that the white privilege was real.

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White people were the only ones that truly lived free. In the painting, you see two people, presumable black, picking cotton. To me, because of the time frame of when Otis Dozier was lived, I feel like he painted what he saw on a day to day basis growing up. Negro workers in the fields picking cotton so that people like him can enjoy the luxury of staying warm or having soft clothes. The question that remains with me, is that were “cotton pickers” really free? Were they living the American Dream? The American Dream to me is freedom. The freedom that I can be and do whatever I may please. I can understand that these “cotton pickers” felt confined and could only live at the will of their master or their slave owners.  Langston Hughes, just like the people in this painting do not feel free. In the poem, Hughes talks about being “the man who never got ahead”, I could understand that these “cotton pickers” also feel the same way. Because of their skin, their version of the American Dream can never be obtained, and this was something that they could not help.

 

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2 comments

  1. I can see how you have interpreted that from the painting and his work of poetry. It was in such a time when American Blacks was known for being nothing but slaves and this imagine alone will make you really fell and grasp the context of his poetry the words as if he was saying them why he was showing you this picture. I also can agree the American dream should of been freedom or equality that some of our ancestors never got a chance to really live as free Americans. many never got the chance to experience the so called great America.

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  2. Your analysis of the artwork is insightful. Seeing the painting brings to my mind the slave workers in the cotton fields of the South. In the context of the modern era, pretty much everyone struggling to get ahead could be described as a cotton picker. Anyone who is being held back from achieveing their potential because of their race, faith, gender, sexual orientation could be described as a cotton picker in the context of this artwork. Our goal as a society should be to eliminate the cotton picking situation for everyone. Fair and equal treatment to everyone. Always. That, in my opinion would be an ideal world. Humanity eliminated the literal cotton picking situation. Let us work together to eliminate the metaphorical one. We can do it.

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