Power of Nature: Betrayal and Blessings

Dr. Carmaletta Williams  |  Chief Executive Officer
Black Archives of Mid-America

Kathy Liao  |  Artist, Artist INC Program Specialist
Mid-America Arts Alliance

Prompted by Carmaletta Williams’s work with the Equal Justice Initiative, protecting the basic human rights of the most vulnerable people in American society, and the Lynching Project, a multi-year investigation into lynching in America during the period between Reconstruction and World War II, this Advisory Partner group of Williams and Kathy Liao developed their theme, Power of Nature, to reveal the surreal juxtaposition of nature and humankind.

The 1897 lynching of Erastus Brown of Union, Missouri is a “betrayal” of nature. This particular atrocity has been described as a journey by red bridge through the sereneness of nature and landscape, down to the river, where Brown was executed. Coupling an idyllic natural setting with the horrific violence Brown suffered complicates man’s relationship to nature. The “blessings” of nature derive from Hush Harbors, the places where enslaved people would gather to worship in private. In this instance, nature served as a sanctuary.

Kathy Liao on the work of Fatimah Tuggar

Richard Mosse, (Irish, born 1980), Men of Good Fortune, 2011

The large-scale photograph Men of Good Fortune (2011) by Richard Mosse (Irish, born 1980) documents a hauntingly beautiful landscape in the Democratic Republic of Congo taken with infrared film showing a nation during a time of conflict. Trauma and war are shown against an electric pink landscape, illustrating the concept of conflict at the core of this image. Like Mosse’s image, works in this gallery speak to the tensions associated with both the beauty and the violent histories of various landscapes.


Richard Mosse, (Irish, born 1980), Men of Good Fortune, 2011, from the series Infra, digital color print on paper, edition 1 of 2, 71 x 89 inches. Collection of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri, Bebe and Crosby Kemper Collection, Museum purchase made possible by a gift from the R. C. Kemper Charitable Trust, 2011.23.01. © Richard Mosse, courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.