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A poet's response to Carpeaux's "Why Born Enslaved!"

Dec 13, 2019 3 MINUTES
In this video, Wendy S. Walters recites the poem she wrote in response to Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux's sculpture "Why Born Enslaved!", which was recently acquired by The Met. In it, she confronts the power dynamics at play in creating and viewing a work of art that depicts an enslaved woman of African descent, and she wonders about the identity and status of the model who posed for Carpeaux.

Featured Artwork:

"Why Born Enslaved!"
Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux
Modeled 1868, carved 1873
Purchase, The Wallace Foundation, Wrightsman Fellows Gifts, and Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation Gift, 2019

MetCollects introduces highlights of works of art recently acquired by The Met through gifts and purchases. Discover a new work each month.