On the morning of Sunday, September 15, 1963, over a dozen sticks of dynamite planted by members of the Ku Klux Klan exploded at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Killed in the blast were four Black girls, Addie Mae Collins (age 14) Carol Denise McNair (age 11), Carole Rosamond Robertson (age 14), and Cynthia Dionne Wesley (age 14).
In The Fifth Child Burning, Lonnie Holley relates the death of the four girls in the church bombing to that of a little girl in a housefire years later.
The Fifth Child Burning (1994) by Lonnie HolleyOriginal Source: Baltimore Museum of Art, Museum purchase and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation
The Fifth Child Burning, 1994
"A little girl in Birmingham burned to death in her own house. She was a classmate of A.J., my son. These things in this artwork all came out of her burned-down house. Her parents was not home. They had given her luxuries but not their own time."
The work consists of numerous household items, including a television and VCR
a lamp, chair, and toaster
a boom box
a bookbag and clothing
and roller skates.
"Four little girls died in the bombing at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in 1963. They was the victims of racism. The 'fifth' child burned from a kind of family neglect. We got to look past racism sometimes and find the blame within ourself."
Sculptor and musician Lonnie Holley was born in Birmingham, AL in 1950. His work is in the permanent collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The National Gallery of Art, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. www.lonnieholley.com