Hank Kearsley draws on a lifetime of personal experience that spans an America prior to the civil rights movement, through an America still struggling with racism and a world where oppression continues to exist.
Two watershed moments in American history occurred in the midst of the Civil War when President Lincoln signed the Homestead Act on May 20, 1862 to spur Western migration, followed only months later by the Emancipation Proclamation issued on September 22, 1862. Many freed slaves went West but their anticipation of the opportunities of freedom and the frontier collided with the realities of the racism they encountered. Some individuals persevered to make their mark on the history of the West and their stories have inspired Kearsley’s Black West series of paintings.
Kearsley studied under Hale Woodruff, Helen Frankenthaler and Louise Nevelson. After some early years in New York City, including a bachelor’s degree and MFA from NYU and City College, he moved to Massachusetts where he teaches and divides his time between studios in the Berkshires and the Boston area. Exhibitions of his paintings include shows at the Museum of the National Center for Afro-American Artists, Wellesley College, Hudson River Museum, New York University, Goddard College, and Long Island University.