In “The Terrible Vision”, the eminent artist Margaret Taylor recounts her realization that the great live oaks she played near as a girl represents not just the beauty of nature but also, since live oaks commonly served as “hanging trees” in the South, the horrors of lynching. A particularly moving aspect of “The Terrible Vision” are Taylor’s etchings (reproduced in the 5 x 8 inch color facsimile) of four “visions” of a single gnarled live oak—as it harbors dead figures in its branches, as flames engulf and consume both tree and figures, as a wild rainstorm drenches and douses the flames, as the original gnarled tree standing now without its dead bodies below shows the faintest signs of a hopeful dawn. This is narrative, socially conscious, implicitly political art of a high order that reprises the consciousness-raising art of the 1960s and, as well, the legendary NAACP anti-lynching exhibition of the 1930s. Taylor urges other white people to study the history of racism in this country. Her remarkable etchings provide the inspiration to do so.
Ronald Story, Professor of History Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, October, 2020