Everyone of the pictures i can find of myself in this extraordinary archive of photos of artists protests in the early 70s, I am in the background except this one. This is 1971 and my mother and I are locked in mutual gazes with Yvonne Rainier in front of the Museum of Modern Art protesting Rockefeller's involvement with the massacre at Attica Prison. He is also on the Board of MOMA. Thus the protest. My gaze is focused on my mother's gaze. She is trying to tell me something, something I perfectly understood at the time but can no longer remember. In front of other people, we always communicated with such looks. What made Jan Van Raay take this picture of me, I am not sure, but I think it had more to do with the presence of Faith and Yvonne, both of whom are in a lot of her pictures, and nothing to do with me at 19 years of age standing between them. I think it is very funny and telling that I am holding an umbrella. With my mother doing this impractical thing of calling for Rockefeller's impeachment in front of the citadel of high culture and modernism, and yet I have my umbrella because no doubt rain is predicted or threatens and I am a cautious practical person at heart, not at all the flaming radical my spirited mother has compelled me to be. Nonetheless I loved her so. The innocence of that look.
- Michele Wallace
- I am a writer and a professor of English at the City College of New York, and the CUNY Graduate Center. My books include Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman (1979), Invisibility Blues (1990), Black Popular Culture (1992), and Dark Designs and Visual Culture (2005). I write cultural criticism frequently and am currently working on a project on creativity and feminism among the women in my family, some of which is posted on the Soul Pictures blog.