Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

How does one live as both vessel and cargo, as life-bearer and legal property? Layered through the simultaneously bold and ghostly presence of a bright yellow dress, Taylor Pickett renders Black women as bearers of a people, evoking the many containers that carried enslaved Africans away from themselves—garments, ships, the repeating and flattening coercions of bondage. Scale brings the crowded journey of the Middle Passage to the fore; handmade carved block prints are replicated in the dozens, filling the scene and enumerating the enslaved Africans who survived the sea voyage. The title and empty dress recall the biblical story of Hagar, an enslaved woman purchased in Egypt for Sarah who was then given to Abraham to bear a child. What bodily memories might a garment hold? Taylor Pickett is known for using dresses as a visual metaphor across her works to explore themes of womanhood and motherhood, as well as cultures of mourning and creative survival within her own life. With arms akimbo, Hagar activates the histories of many such women who have stood in her place.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Janet Taylor Pickett, American (Ann Arbor, MI born 1948)
Hagar's Dress
Work Type
Persistent Link
Level 3, Room 3500, Special Exhibitions Gallery
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Physical Descriptions
Offset lithograph on white wove paper
Offset print
127 × 96.5 cm (50 × 38 in.)
mat: 128.3 × 97.8 cm (50 1/2 × 38 1/2 in.)
Janet Taylor Pickett, created 2007; [Brandywine Workshop, Philadelphia, PA], sold; to the Harvard Art Museums, 2018.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Margaret Fisher Fund
© Janet Taylor Pickett, courtesy Jennifer Baahng Gallery
Accession Year
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art
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Exhibition History

32Q: 2240 18th Century, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 12/19/2018 - 06/19/2019

Prints from the Brandywine Workshop and Archives: Creative Communities, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 03/04/2022 - 07/31/2022

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