The Epic in the Ordinary

The painting of Jacob Lawrence

The artist Jacob Lawrence died in Seattle on June 9. Reading his obituary in the New York Times, I looked up at the poster over my desk announcing a 1992 exhibit of his work at the Phillips Collection in Washington. It shows a painting with the number fifty-seven scrawled in the lower right corner. 57 depicts a black woman, head bent, laboring over a large washing trough pushing soaking clothes with a long pole. Against a background of...

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About the Author

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages and blogs at dotCommonweal.