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Ria Unson's painting of a woman and a child in a garden in Manila

Foreign in a domestic sense


watercolor, gouache, digital paint, and collage on canvas

36 x 48"

The title of this work refers to the 1901 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in regard to the Insular Cases (Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines) that denied the people of those lands full constitutional rights.


With the ratification of the Treaty of Paris in 1899, the already defeated Spaniards sold the nascent Republic of the Philippines to the United States government for twenty million dollars, initiating the Philippine-American War. The text that frames this painting is American President, William McKinley’s handwritten letter to the Senate requesting ratification of the treaty, which passed by only one vote.


Kinzer, Stephen, The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire, Henry Holt & Co., 2017

Immerwahr, Daniel, How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States, Picador, 2020

Joaquin, Nick, The Woman Who Had Two Navels and Tales of the Tropical Gothic, Penguin Classics, 2017

Twain, Mark, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Simon & Schuster, 2016

Velasquez, Las Meninas, 1656

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