In Your Space Series: ”Being In an Art Museum, Technically..."

In Your Space Series: ”Being In an Art Museum, Technically..."

I am grateful for many things in my life. I am never shy to cite my mom as one of the biggest, if not the biggest influence in my art career. When I was a child, she constantly exposed me to museums, and, of course, the art museums fascinated me the most.

When I began taking photography classes at the Glassell School of Art in Houston, TX, the classes came with a pass to the Museum of Fine Arts, which became the cornerstone of my art education. I spent countless hours roaming the halls of that museum, absorbing all I could. I made sure I had that pass every semester I was in college, and it was something that I treasured


Today's feature pieces are from Andrew, who is a director at the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth. The fact that my art is in a museum (technically), especially one that holds such personal significance to me, brings me immense joy. The pieces he chose, my tobacco card-style portraits of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, hold special meaning to me as well.  

If you have followed my work, you know that I love to make tobacco cards mimicking the famous T-206 baseball cards. The most famous card being Honus Wagner. Abraham Lincoln is on one of the cards I painted for Andrew, which triggered a series of Lincoln paintings from me for a good while.

One of the things I love about commissions and suggestions is that the right one will send me into a creative wormhole. The best wormholes are ones where the material is comedic. I had a good time with Lincoln! 

Frederick Douglass is the second piece Andrew commissioned, also made in that T206 style. There are so many passages from Douglass's narrative that are inspiring. In my teenage years and even now, this passage hits me the hardest:

"As I writhed under it, I would at times feel that learning to read had been a curse rather than a blessing. It had given me a view of my wretched condition, without the remedy. It opened my eyes to the horrible pit, but to no ladder upon which to get out. In moments of agony, I envied my fellow-slaves for their stupidity. I have often wished myself a beast.”

-Frederick Douglass: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

In the age of being "woke," I think Douglass’s words in this passage are something every person should process. I always took it as him feeling the burden of responsibility his literacy had afforded him—how scary that can be.

As a youth, it resonated. I was angry about a lot of things, but then what do with that rage? It ultimately led me to my strange career as an artist, and I'm so happy and grateful about that. In some peculiar way, Douglass's words were a part of that. We also have similar hair!

While this edition may have become a bit heavier than intended at the end there, I stand by my words and am grateful for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you.

If you have any of my art on display in your own space, please share it with me! As a token of my appreciation, I offer a 35% discount on any of my artwork. Until next time!

-Sergio Santos