Southampton resident Samuel Johnson, 56, has a flair for the unconventional when it comes to his art collection.
An avid art collector for 10 years, Mr. Johnson finds himself drawn to the politically incorrect pieces portraying blackface—where a white person’s face is covered in black paint to mock African-Americans—to highlight a part of history that he says people are often hoping to forget. Mr. Johnson, who is black, has countless pieces carefully placed throughout his home, ranging from small statuettes to paintings depicting slavery.
Now, for the second year in a row, Mr. Johnson is opting to share his collection with the East End. He has loaned several of his pieces to the Rogers Memorial Library on Windmill Lane in Southampton. The pieces, which can be found in two display cases near the reference desk at the front of the library, will remain on display through February.
“My friends would give me these pieces and hide them so their children wouldn’t see them, and I would ask if it was politically incorrect,” Mr. Johnson said. “If they said yes, I would love it! I embrace it a little differently from other people I know.”
This week, Mr. Johnson—who has worked as a computer operator and bus attendant for the Hampton Jitney for the past 14 years—said he is happy to lend his collection to the library. He said his collection is his contribution to society.
Mr. Johnson will be at the library today, January 23, from 1 to 3 p.m. to answer questions about the art. The pieces will remain on display through February.
“I embrace it as art and not for its racial undertones,” said Mr. Johnson. “Racism hasn’t really happened to me, because I was sheltered from it in Southampton, but I wanted to make my mark on society. I think people really enjoy it, and it was an honor for me to do it.”