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Heirlooms & Accessories

Kerry James Marshall (b. 1955) Heirlooms & Accessories, 2002 Three ink-jet prints on paper in wooden artist's frames with rhinestones 57 × 54 1/4 × 3 in. The Studio Museum in Harlem; Museum purchase made possible by a gift from an anonymous donor 2005.7.1a-c

Heirlooms & Accessories makes use of Lawrence Beitler’s 1930 photograph of the murders of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith to interrogate the legacy of racial violence. Fading the rest of the image so that it nearly matches the white of the paper, Kerry James Marshall highlights the faces of three women in the crowd, accessories to the murders, and places each of them inside a locket, an accessory. These three women, each representing a different generation, participate in a legacy of racism. This legacy is made tangible by turning them into pieces of jewelry, heirlooms that are physically passed down from generation to generation.