Jen Bryant '82 wrote a Feb. 17 opinion article on Horace Pippin for Philly.com.
In 1933, if you peered through the first-floor window of a certain plain brick house on Gay Street in West Chester, you might see a strongly built African American man, impeccably dressed in pressed white shirt and wool vest, his left hand grasping his right wrist, leaning toward his easel.
His gaze is riveted, intense, as he applies from his palette, in thick, short strokes, house paint he's scavenged from the borough's alleys. Looking closer, you'd notice the colors are somber: gray, white, black, and brown, with the occasional splash of red. You'd notice too, that the scene depicted on stretched linen is a battle in the trenches of the Great War, with all of its chaos and despair. He called it The End of War: Starting Home, and he'd been working on it for three years.
And if you looked closer into that neatly kept home, you might see the iron poker that the big man grasped one night, as he fought off memories of those muddy trenches, the droning planes, the gunfire, the smoke; as he recalled the sniper's bullet that had lodged in his right shoulder, pushing him back into the trench, where he almost bled to death; and later, the French surgeon inserting a steel plate, sending him home to the United States with a nearly useless arm, a soldier's pension, and the French Croix de Guerre for bravery in battle. That night, the black veteran whom no one would hire because of his injury, had taken a spare leaf from his kitchen table and using the poker, burned a hunting scene into the soft wood. That felt good! Some light, which had dimmed in him since the war, suddenly flickered.