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Train Station

View from the middle of a train station looking down three different corridors. Tunnels are marked with the names of southern cities to the left, northern to the right. Light-skinned travelers, many in fine dress, head left, while dark-skinned travelers, many encumbered by luggage, head right.

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  • View from the middle of a train station looking down three different corridors. Tunnels are marked with the names of southern cities to the left, northern to the right. Light-skinned travelers, many in fine dress, head left, while dark-skinned travelers, many encumbered by luggage, head right.

Date:

1935

Artist:

Walter Ellison
American, 1899–1977

About this artwork

Walter Ellison’s energetic scene of travelers departing a terminal for numerous destinations foregrounds the harsh realities of racial injustice under Jim Crow in the 1930s. On the left, white passengers, assisted by black porters, embark on vacations to Florida on southbound trains. On the right, black passengers board train cars heading north to Chicago, Detroit, and New York in search of work and opportunities for better lives.

By inscribing his initials, W. W. E., on a suitcase at lower right, the artist personalized this symbolic vision of relocation, loss, and hope. Born in Georgia, he was among the more than six million African Americans who joined the Great Migration from the rural South to the urban North, moving to Chicago by 1926. Ellison studied briefly at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1930s.

Status

On View, Gallery 263

Department

Arts of the Americas

Artist

Walter Ellison

Title

Train Station

Place

United States (Artist's nationality)

Date

1930–1940

Medium

Oil on cardboard

Inscriptions

Signed lower right: Walter W. Ellison Signed lower right (vertically on suitcase): W W E

Dimensions

20 × 36 cm (8 × 14 in.)

Credit Line

Charles M. Kurtz Charitable Trust and Barbara Neff Smith and Solomon Byron Smith funds; through prior gifts of Florence Jane Adams, Mr. and Mrs. Carter H. Harrison, and the estate of Celia Schmidt

Reference Number

1990.134

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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