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Clarissa Sligh, American, b. 1939
Progress, 2006
Ink on paper
16 1/4 in. x 11 7/8 in. (41.28 cm x 30.16 cm)

Object Type: Print
Technique: Printmaking
Credit Line: Gift of Samella Lewis
Accession Number: 2008.9.10

Part of "Portfolio One," 15 works by 15 artists. Samella Lewis donated portfolio no. 7 of "Portfolio One" to the Scripps art collection. A most unusual assignment, the artists were asked to create 50 pieces, and the edition totaled 50. (In this portfolio, each of the artists created 50 works, except Senghor Reid and Ben Jones.) Among the printmaking processes included were lithographs, linocuts, and collaged pigment prints. Other media used were collage, watercolor, acrylics, photography, charcoal and oil stick.

Titled Progress, Clarissa Sligh’s print examines America’s history of racism and trade from a critical perspective. Sligh created this piece in 2006 while living in Philadelphia, following nationwide discussions about free trade in North America. The piece features a large black-and-white photograph of Sligh covered in paint, with a map tracking the Transatlantic Slave Trade taped over her mouth. Beneath the main photograph, a series of identical images of Sligh’s face appear along the border. Red lines are drawn across the top of each portrait, where the words, “Free Trade,” grow in visibility as one gazes from left to right.

The title, Progress, is meant ironically, as Sligh illustrates a lack of change in systemic economic racism and suppression of Black people in America. In a recent statement about the piece, Sligh writes, “I had studied economics in business school and worked in corporate and on Wall Street for a few years so l had learned that ‘there is no such thing as a free lunch,’ which I thought NAFTA was touted as. This was just a continuation of American imperialism. Somebody was going to get the ‘short end’ and somebody was going to make a huge profit.”

Amelie Lee SC ’23, Wilson Arts Administration Intern 2020

This work is a collaged pigment print.

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