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Making work about The Exhibition of American Negroes in 1900 and social and economic upward mobility of middle class African Americans from 1850-1900 has led me to digging further into the Reconstruction. While researching this period, I came across the Atlanta Washerwoman Strike of 1881, I became fascinated in this movement because it was a specific scenario of a labor campaign which could explain the data in the The Exhibition of American Negroes infographics, for instance, rise or fall in income. 

Joining the momentum of labor strikes through the country, starting from a couple hundred to a few thousand, laundresses went on strike - against the city, companies, and individual employers - throughout the city of Atlanta, demanding higher wages and safer working conditions. Due to their success and strength of organizing, they influenced the formation of unions and strikes in other industries.

These works began this summer amongst the stay-at-home order and global protests, entangled with these pieces are a lot of unresolved feelings. The works are inspired by black women in my life, my mother, for instance, and in American history, domestic workers of the 1881 strike who strategized for better working conditions and quality of life.

The pieces on display, sentinels, as they have been thoughtfully called, are entities delineating resilience and wounds to endure during this time. The smallest, most figurative piece in the room is inspired by labor strikes by municipal workers during my time in Johannesburg. It is common for workers and students go on strike against institutions. The sense of urgency moved me. Collective strength was the rule and not the exception.



WWS 8 

Acrylic Medium and Pigment Ink, 2020


Acrylic Medium and Pigment Ink, 2020

WWS 6 (The Visionary)

Acrylic Medium and Pigment Ink, 2020

WWS 5 (Splitting of a new day)

Acrylic Medium and Pigment Ink, 2020

Antonio McAfee: Projects


Antonio McAfee is a photographer based in Baltimore, MD. He received his BFA in Fine Art Photography (2007) from the Corcoran College of Art and Design. Shortly after, he earned his MFA in Photography (2009) from the University of Pennsylvania. In 2011, he received a Post-Graduate Diploma in Art in Arts and Culture Management from the University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg, South Africa).

McAfee’s work addresses the complexity of representation by appropriating and manipulating photographic portraits of African Americans in the 19th century, funk and R&B musicians, and transitioned family members.

McAfee has been featured in BmoreArt Magazine, The Washington Post, Washington City Paper, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Baltimore City Paper, and Mission on Tenth published by California Institute of Integrated Studies. He participated in residencies at Elsewhere Museum, The Contemporary Museum Artist Retreat, Can Serrat (Spain) and Vermont Studio Center.

Antonio was awarded Maryland State Individual Artist Award, Civil Society Institute Fellowship, Fulbright IIE Grant to Johannesburg, South Africa, and Dedalus MFA Painting and Sculpture Fellowship. His work has been exhibited at the Institute of Contemporary Art (Baltimore), Academy Art Museum (MD), Walters Art Museum (MD), and Kreeger Museum (DC).

Antonio McAfee: TeamMember
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