Double Paradox acrylic on canvas with collage

Artsy Editors
Jun 19, 2014 10:37PM

"Double Paradox" is a mixed media painting that is acrylic and collage on canvas, and a continuation of works on race and my family. It is based on a photo of my uncle as a young boy. I wanted to express the paradox he lived through when he served in the U.S. Army, volunteering during WWII, but was denied his proper rank when discharged because of his race. He succeeded anyway, leaving more than a half million negatives of images he captured, and a Philadelphia museum that named one its exhibition spaces after him!

Jack T. Franklin volunteered to serve, but like all Americans of African descent he was discriminated against when his officers realized he was African American. No, he did not hide his ethnicity. Recently out of high school. the recruiter decided for the young man that he was Native American. Without knowing this my uncle went to the Pacific to be a U.S. Army photographer, a skill he had been honing since he was 11 years old and my mother had given him his first camera.

He never seemed angry about the Army incident-even though they denied him the same rank that the other honorably discharged soldiers received. He used the skills he acquired to photograph and leave behind all his pictures that have been exhibited in the Smithsonian Museum, in a book by MacArthur fellow Deborah Willis, numerous articles and publications, and CBS News International. His collection has been acquired by the African American Museum in Philadelphia. Jack T. Franklin lived a double paradox, as many people of color in America do.

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