Steve Prince was not shy when declaring his christian upbringing, and thus its influence within his artwork. A common motif seen in the works we have discussed involved the figure of a horse, or multiples of them. Mr. Prince uses these horses to portray the woes of the citizens, primarily the African American ones, in New Orleans during Katrina, bringing to mind the Bible’s depictions of the apocalypse through the Four Horsemen.
What is interesting is how these symbols appear in many of Mr. Prince’s prints. My class discussion group used the “Second Line I-IV” solo shots, seen in the image above, to describe some of the symbolism that parallel in Mr. Prince’s prints.
In addition to my classmates’ discussion, Dr. Nicodemi helped to illuminate some of the meaning behind these figures during class. She explained how her upbringing was also very Catholic, which helped her to notice the possible meanings behind these symbols. She explained how these horses showed the “Second Coming” and how the handkerchiefs in hand are the often ways of carrying away spirits. The use of handkerchiefs depicted within the Bible are seen in Acts 19:12. It describes, “so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them”. This idea alludes to the spirits seen surrounding the horses.
In addition, the Bible states, “When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come and see!” I looked and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine, and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth. (Revelation 6:7-8)” showing how each horse’s verse within the Bible describes it’s appearance and the chaos it brings forth to the world. This is seen within the Second Line works as each horse is varying in shades, pose, and dress. This could mean each of them represents something daunting, just like their biblical counterparts. If the four horsemen released by Jesus were Death, Famine, War, and Conquest, Mr. Prince must’ve used them to show the chaos Katrina brought into New Orleans.
Many attributes of this piece also culturally connect the title and horses to New Orleans which will be expanded upon in part two.