The subtitle of this work by Whitfield Lovell, a recent acquisition for the museum, is “Glory in the Flower,” which references the below poem by William Wordsworth. Why do you think Lovell chose this particular phrase for this work? Why do you think he chose a clock as the accompanying object to this portrait?
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendor in the grass, of glory in flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.
–William Wordsworth, “Ode on Intimations of Immortality” from Recollections of Early Childhood, 1804
This tableaux was originally created as part ofWhitfield Lovell’s installation Visitation, which explored the history of the Jackson Ward historic district in Richmond, Virginia, the first black entrepreneurial community in the United States, commonly described as the Harlem of the South.
Restoreth, as the artist once explained, “evolved . . . out of a need for reconciliation. For me, it bridges the abyss between slavery and the height of Jackson Ward’s heyday. The image is from a tintype of an older black woman. The work includes 33 medicine bottles—pills, powders, ointments, and tonics—that represent the elements of healing and fortification. The juxtaposition of these objects with the image of this powerful woman suggests a kind of protection from, and cleansing of, the ills of the past, while also alluding to Hoodoo practices that came from African customs.”