Art in Church: Horace Pippin’s “Giving Thanks”

This all-ages art appreciation piece was written for use in a Thanksgiving Sunday service on Oct. 11th, 2020 at St. John’s United, Marathon.

“Giving Thanks” by Horace Pippin, 1942, Public Domain

I love this painting by Horace Pippin. Horace was a Black man who lived in the USA a long-time ago, but not that long ago. He lived at a time when Black and White people had to use different water fountains, sit in different parts of a movie theater, eat at different restaurants, and go to different schools.

Black people were poorer than their White neighbours because they didn’t get as many opportunities for work, or for education. And White people kept making rules that meant Black people’s lives were more difficult than they should have been.

Horace was a painter. He won a contest in a newspaper when he was young and won a pack of crayons. He painted scenes from his life, and from his neighbourhood. Some of his art is sad, and it shows how hard life was for Black people. Others are filled with joy, and especially music.

Horace gave us, years later, a really good picture of what life was really like for his community.

I like this painting because I think that being Thankful can be a rebellious act. To be rebellious means to fight for yourself.

Finding joy and goodness in the midst of a world that wants to put you down is an act of rebellion. Celebrating what you have, what’s really important, is rebellious when the world tries to tell you what you have doesn’t matter, doesn’t count, isn’t good enough.

Being Thankful can be an act of rebellion.

That’s why I love this painting.

Learn more about Horace Pippin and his art by visiting

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