Deborah Grant at the Drawing Center
Grant’s Christ You Know it Ain't Easy!! (the installation takes its title from the Lennon/McCartney song “The Ballad of John and Yoko”) combines painting, drawing, and collage to recount the fictional meeting between African-American folk artist Mary A. Bell and renowned modernist painter Henri Matisse. Mary A. Bell (1873–1941), a deeply devout Catholic domestic servant who produced over a hundred drawings after she had retired from service, never received formal artistic training. Rendered through graphic silhouettes, intricate line drawings, and collaged photographic elements, Grant’s fictionalized narrative provides an alternate account of the legacy of modernist painting, one not told in the history books.