Discover the legacy of African American soldiers and veterans of World War I in a lecture by scholar Chad L. Williams at the Brandywine River Museum of Art on June 3. The museum’s current exhibition, Horace Pippin: The Way I See It displays art by Pippin, one of the leading figures of 20th-century art. Known for his insightful, expressive and bold paintings, Pippin was a self-taught artist who vividly depicted a range of subject matter, from intimate family moments and floral still lifes to powerful scenes of war, history and religion.
Horace Pippin served in World War I in the African American regiment known as the Harlem Hellfighters. His experiences as a soldier greatly influenced his work as an artist. As he later commented, “The war brought out all of the art in me.” Despite an injury that severely limited the use of his right arm, Pippin created an illustrated journal of his war experience on his return home, and by 1930 had begun teaching himself to paint in oil using his left arm as a support for his right hand.
Williams is chair of the department of African and Afro-American studies at Brandeis University. He is an expert on African Americans and World War I and, more generally, African Americans and the military. His first book, “Torchbearers of Democracy: African American Soldiers in the World War I Era,” was published by the University of North Carolina Press. Widely praised as a landmark study, “Torchbearers” won the 2011 Liberty Legacy Foundation Award from the Organization of American Historians, the 2011 Distinguished Book Award from the Society for Military History and designation as a 2011 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title. He has published articles and book reviews in several leading journals and collections and has earned fellowships from several organizations. Tickets for the lecture are available online or by calling (610) 388-8326.