Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

Kerry James Marshall (American, b. 1955)

Cub Scout, 1995

Acrylic and mixed media on canvas mounted on board

34 1/2 x 34 1/2 in. (87.6 x 87.6 cm)


Gift of the Susan and Lewis Manilow Collection of Chicago Artists
2003.31

This portrait of a young African-American boy dressed in his scouting uniforms is part of a larger series titled American Dream. The series of paintings chart the progression of children through the scouting ranks. A common experience for American children, regardless of ethnicity, is to belong to clubs that help develop character, skills, and ethics. In this rite of passage, which focuses on community, leadership, and duty—the same hallmarks of the 1950s and sixties American Civil Rights movement to which Marshall often refers—Cub Scouts eventually turn into Boy Scouts and Brownies become Girl Scouts.