Art History in “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou’s memories (sometimes disturbing, but always moving) of traveling around America offers art history references.  While working in a nice house, she remembers destroying glassware and other crockery that was designed in Virginia as a way to get back at her disrespectful employers.

Self-Portrait with Halo and Snake, 1889

Paul Gauguin [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

She wrote of segregation and how schools for young White people were given examples of many famous scientists and one artist that those students should aspire to be.  The artist example was Paul Gauguin.  While living in San Francisco, she mentions the city’s French style architecture.  My research has led to an article that gives a history of the city’s Federal Building.  There was another completely difference reference, but it was so vague, I decided to not dive into it in this blog entry.

By the way, I do recommend checking out this book, particularly the audiobook edition with Angelou herself reading the text.  She is engaging and it’s sublime when she sings songs from her writing.


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