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The Art of JAMA
April 5, 2016

Into Bondage: Aaron Douglas

Author Affiliations

Copyright 2016 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.

JAMA. 2016;315(13):1318-1319. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.14190

Into Bondage is one of four panels in a mural painted by the American artist Aaron Douglas (1899-1979) for the Texas Centennial Exposition, which was held in Dallas, Texas, in 1936. Douglas’ murals were historical accounts of the experience of African Americans from slave origins toward a shared destiny of acceptance and opportunity. Into Bondage follows a line of manacled figures out of their forested homeland to the ships that will carry them across the sea, where they will be absorbed into America’s forced labor economy. Chronology has been compressed by the use of geometric shading and by overlapping images of events that would have taken place at different points in time: as the captives move down to the shore, the slave ships have already sailed and the man in the center of the painting is standing on an auction block.