[strikethrough: a part of] the architecture, textiles and ^ [in] body adornment, ^ [an art form which many involve painting parts of the body or causing blister like patterns to be created by incising the skin among] most African peoples.
Whatever may have been the skills among artisans that centered around the
limited use of the painterly or two-dimensional approach to art in the African
tradition were lost during the cruel period of slavery when our ancestors were
forced to give up nearly all of their cultural associations with Africa. Some
visual forms emerged from this mixture of African , [strikethrough: and] European and native
American culture ^ [that have been attributed to mulattoes.] It is in this context that one is made aware of the skills
of the black artisan class who "redirected the passage of an African iconography
in art into one which became serviceably oriented to Colonial America." 12
The black artisan contributed experience, time and heritable interest to
the development of the crafts in America but he was never fully accepted and
integrated into the mainstream of the crafts or ^ [into] what was the most important
industry in ^ [colonial] America outside of agriculture. He remained a servant of the people
even in his newly earned capacity as freedman since the growth of his profession
was dependent almost entirely upon the needs of whites whose humanistic interest
in people of African origin at best was one based in [strikethrough: his] them ability to serve ^ [them] as
[strikethrough: a] laborers.
Black poets, musicians and craftsmen were acknowledged in what may be
referred to as the more liberal literature of the colonial period; but few
accounts of the lives of ^ [black] artists whose work has been ^ [well] documented [strikethrough: who served in]
[strikethrough: a capacity of apprenticeship] in the fine arts have come to our attention prior
to the life of Joshua Johnston.
Johnston is believed to have been a former slave from ^ [the city of] Baltimore where he
entered the field of portrait painting. To this day, the question of his place
12 Ibid. p. 42-43.
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