HANOVER, N.H. — The first image in “Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties” is Barkley L. Hendricks’s painting “Lawdy Mama.” As an introduction to the show — a bracing mix of dynamism, ideology, and confrontation — it could hardly be bettered. “Witness” runs through Dec. 14 at the Hood Museum of Art, at Dartmouth College.
An African-American woman with an Angela Davis-worthy afro stands against a gold-leaf background. She could be a Byzantine icon — truly, a figure worthy of worship. Encouraging such a response are the steady gaze with which she meets the viewer’s eye and the scale of the canvas, 4 ½ feet by 3 feet. Calm and cool (in both senses of the word), this woman means business. All right, so the revolution will not be televised. It doesn’t have to be. Here it is.
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“Witness” consists of