Sleeping Boy, 1953
Is this boy actually asleep? Or could he be in this protective crouch because he is afraid or upset? The brick wall behind him and the ground where he sits (asphalt?) seem to suggest an urban environment. A ring of light encircles his silhouette: Where is this light coming from? What time of day is it? We see Burroughs’s mastery of the linocut technique in the marks and textures she creates—wavy strands of the boy’s hair, thin lines that define the folds of his top, the effect of light striking the bricks—all of which impart a lively, somewhat anxious element to a seemingly still subject.
Margaret Burroughs (1915–2010) was an extraordinary artist, poet, educator, curator, and activist who played a key role in advancing opportunities for Black artists and bringing recognition of the contributions of Black art, history, and culture to American life. In Chicago, she helped establish the renowned South Side Community Art Center and founded the DuSable Museum of African American History. As an artist, Burroughs worked in a variety of media, including painting and sculpture, but she is perhaps best known for her linocuts of African American leaders, historical events, and scenes of daily life featuring Black people that were seldom seen in art museums and galleries.