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All Black & Blue, Bruises of a Queen's Crown

70 x 49 x 49 in. (177.8 x 124.46 x 124.46 cm)

Rontherin Ratliff (New Orleans, LA, 1977 - ) Artist

Object Type: Sculpture
Medium and Support: acrylic sheet, mirror, wood, paint, fabric and leather purses
Credit Line: Newcomb Art Museum of Tulane University
Accession Number: 2020.4.1

Artist Statement
Statement by Rontherin Ratliff, on his artistic response to Bobbie Jean Johnson’s experience:

In the American justice system, a confession is considered the queen of criminal evidence. The most powerful piece in the strategy-based board game of chess, holds the title of the “queen” and the objective of the game is to place the opponents prized member, the “king” under an inescapable threat of capture.  

There are many parallels to draw upon between chess and life. For example, the family dynamic where the man is viewed as the head of the household, yet the woman often does the work of maintaining the family dynamic. Another example would be polar battles of race and class, policing strategies and in this case, a queen sacrifice, to gain a favorable tactical position.

At 19 years old, Bobbie Jean Johnson was suffocated and brutally assaulted in the inescapable confines of a New Orleans police station where they acquired the forced and coerced confession that lead to her life sentence in prison. Maintaining her innocence, for 40 years she borne the weight of that conviction to finally live as a free woman today. 

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