Revolt on the Amistad
This image is a reproduction of Lawrence’s 1989 silkscreen print, Revolt on the Amistad. It was printed for a poster issued by the Amistad Research Center to celebrate the sesquicentennial of the event. The image depicts the 1839 event in which a group of Mendians from Sierra Leone were kidnapped by slave hunters and placed on the Spanish ship La Amistad. Although the Mendians rebelled and demanded to be returned to Africa, they were taken to the United States and captured by the American navy. With the support of abolitionists, the Mendians were eventually granted their freedom. A prominent African American artist, Lawrence trained in the 1930s with artists active in the Harlem Renaissance. The majority of his works commemorate important historical events and social struggles experienced by African Americans. He employed an expressive abstract style derived from Cubism, which is reflected in the dynamic imagery of this print. The bold, fragmented forms and clashing colors evoke the violence of the Mendian’s brave revolt against their captors. Lawrence turned to printmaking later in his career as a means to promote issues of racial pride and social justice to a wider public.