Acrylic on plaster
Dimensions: 23 1/2 x 18 1/2 x 7 inches (59.7 x 47 x 17.8 cm)
Acquired through the David M. Solinger, Class of 1926, Endowment
John Ahearn is one of a large number of important artists who attended Cornell University, including Arthur G. Dove, Margaret Bourke-White, Richard Artschwager, and Susan Rothenberg. He was trained as a painter at Cornell, but found himself as a sculptor when he moved to the South Bronx in his twenties. Here, in collaboration with Rigoberto Torres, he opened a storefront studio and began making life-size casts of the people who lived in the area. He met Ernestine, the subject of this work, at a women's shelter and was particularly impressed with her energy and optimism. The simplicity of the pose, the rough modeling of details, and the thin, quick application of the paint all help express the unpretentious directness and spontaneity of the sitter herself. Small details — the red and blue bracelets, the Nefertiti earrings, the lifted left index finger — add to the energy of the figure, and to the humanity of her remarkably expressive face. (From “A Handbook of the Collection: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art," 1998)
NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.