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Princeton University Press

Between Worlds: The Art of Bill Traylor

Between Worlds: The Art of Bill Traylor

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Bill Traylor was born in c. 1853 on a plantation in Benton, Alabama. Still a child during the Civil War, most of Traylor’s life as a freeman was spent sharecropping for his former enslavers. After their deaths, Traylor found himself jobless at the height of the Industrial Revolution. It was only then that Traylor found enough time to pick up some charcoal and chronicle his life. A self taught artist who never learned to write, Bill Traylor’s drawings show us more about his unique worldview than words could possibly convey. Between Worlds: the Art of Bill Traylor features 205 of his works, weaving together a rich narrative. His figures are distinct, precise, honest life in Jim Crow Alabama. No dog is merely a dog, no figure holds a neutral expression. Bill Traylor did us a great service in drawing his life, one of few voices to endure from a generation of Black Americans whose oppression is too often omitted from history books. 

"Published in conjunction with the exhibition of the same name, on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC, September 28, 2018-March 17, 2019."

1.5" H x 11.8" L x 9.5" W (5.8 lbs) 448 pages. Hardcover.

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