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“Mother” Brown


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“Mother” Brown

Artwork Details


Clarence John Laughlin
American, 1905–1985


1945, printed 1979


Gelatin silver print

Accession #



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Currently Not on View


Laughlin, who was raised Catholic, addresses the layered religious history of his native New Orleans in this work. He photographed an African American woman who was the leader of a “religious cult, in which there were some traces of Voodooism,” but who wears a Christian cross around her neck and a nun’s habit. He framed her under the archway of a temple such that the building’s shadow forms a sickle shape over her head, “suggesting the shadow of superstition.”


Gift of Joshua Mann Pailet in honor of his mother, Charlotte Mann Pailet; her family members Josef, Jiri and Alma Beran Mann, all of whom perished in the Holocaust; and Sir Nicholas Winton, the British hero who orchestrated Charlotte’s escape with 669 Czechoslovakian children in 1939 Abbreviated version: Gift of Joshua Mann Pailet in honor of his mother, Charlotte Mann Pailet, her family, and Sir Nicholas Winton