Of more than ten million Africans brought to the Americas as slaves, only six percent were taken to the territory now known as the United States, with the rest being taken to the Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America. In 1990, Tony Gleaton began making portraits of the present day descendants of African slaves brought to what was the New Spain in the 1500s, 1600s, and 1700s. In these portraits which resulted in the exhibition Africa’s Legacy in Mexico, which was extensively exhibited by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in the U.S. and in Mexico and Cuba by the Mexican National Council for Culture and the Arts, Gleaton developed a style that would allow him to explore issues of cultural identity and present his own personal descriptions of beauty, family, and goodness.
This catalogue includes an essay by Jeffrey Hoone with a translation into Spanish.
Tony Gleaton’s ancestry is African and European, and with fair skin and hazel green eyes he could easily fit a variety of ethnic descriptions. Born in Detroit and growing up in Los Angeles in the 1950s as an African American who didn’t always fit in, he easily gravitated to investigating how black people can become forgotten when they don’t fit into neat historical categories.