Using a rich palette and articulated brush strokes, Colescott has depicted a chaotic emergency room, which he considers to be “a vivid allegory for the whole country.” Since the 1960s, Colescott has addressed social issues, particularly racial stereotypes, through narrative figuration. This scene is crowded with caricatured figures, including a priest holding a decapitated head, a skeleton receiving a blood transfusion, a gang of knife–wielding apes, and a doctor smoking as he administers an injection. The women in the painting are subject to violence and harassment, and one large, recumbent, objectlike woman in the background has bricks for flesh, skeletons for eyes, and factory smoke for hair.
Gallery label from What is Painting? Contemporary Art from the Collection, July 7–September 17, 2007 .