Ruth Starr Rose (1887-1965): Revelations of African American Life in Maryland and the World

Through April 3, 2016

Ruth Starr Rose was a white woman who grew up in a wealthy family on Maryland's Eastern Shore around the turn of the century. In her paintings and drawings, she documented African-American life in that region, and she also illustrated African-American spiritual scenes, which have been endorsed by the African-American art historian James A. Porter as exemplary, according to the Lewis Museum. In stories about Rose, she is championed and celebrated for going against her upbringing to depict African-American people in a realistic way, rather than going with shitty, racist stereotypes which were more popular in that pre-civil rights era. Rose was essentially an ally in that sense, using her privilege and her abilities to set the record straight in her art—something that we're grateful for. And while white allies are important, their attitudes can sometimes teeter toward a sadly ironic self-importance for being a basically decent human being toward people who are oppressed. We don't think it's right to shoot off too many fireworks in honor of Rose, but rather to treat this exhibition as a document of African-American people in a certain period of time, to think critically about how far we've come and how much more work needs to be done. Reginald F. Lewis Museum, 830 E. Pratt St., (443) 263-1800,, free. (Rebekah Kirkman)

Copyright © 2019, Baltimore City Paper, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Privacy Policy