Rose Piper

Rose Piper, American 1917-2005
Slow Down Freight Train, 1946-7
oil on canvas 29 1/8 x 23 in. (74 x 58.7 cm)
Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Ackland Fund

Piper, inspired by folk and blues songs, painted Slow Down Freight Train for her first exhibition “Blues and Negro Folk Songs.”  The painting is Piper’s interpretation of notable blueswoman Trixie Smith’s “Freight Train Blues.”  The Great Migration of the early twentieth century often separated African American families since the man would head north first to establish a life for his family. The painting depicts the struggle of migration and mimics the feelings blues songs elicit by portraying raw emotional pain through the attenuated figure of the man.  Grasping the stylistic freedom of semi-abstract expressionism, Piper paints with a political agenda to eliminate racial injustices.

~Heather Mills

An extended look at Rose Piper’s Slow Down Freight Train by Heather Mills