Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Thanks Andrea

I have not blogged since this summer and it’s time that I get serious about it. I participated in a webinar last night which propelled me, in the middle of the night, to begin to jot things down.

The webinar was hosted by Mercer Redcross, the owner of October Gallery in Philadelphia. For the last few weeks he has offered online seminars on various subjects: collecting art, critiquing art, black art history, emerging artists, etc. I was, humbly, one of the artists spotlighted in the webinar of emerging artists.

There was a young woman present that was an avid art collector. In making a decision on whether or not she would purchase a piece, she wanted to know the philosophy of the artist creating the work or what he/she was trying to convey in the piece. This question was asked of me. I had never really been asked that before (or anything about my work, really) and I could not readily articulate my position as I was a little startled by the question. In addition, my mom has so much to do with why I create and it was hard for me to speak without crying. I am not necessarily a shy person, but I am extremely uncomfortable speaking in public. This forum, although virtual, gave me the feeling of standing in the middle of a room and all eyes being on me. I was nervous to say the least.

Painting is healing for me. It relaxes me and allows me to reconnect with myself. The bible tells us to renew our minds daily…for me this is part of renewing my mind. Through these online seminars, what has been most invaluable to me is hearing the interpretation of my work. I have heard that my colors are beautiful, fascinating, and explosive. One gentleman noticed that I use green a lot in my work. Another noted that my use of long necks on my figures and for him they represented strength and elegance. There are civil rights undertones seen in some of my pieces. There is pride and power in the piece with the natural hair… an Angela Davis like power. There were references to the passion in the eyes in my work and the attention to detail exhibited in the execution of them. Wow.

Now, the funny thing is that during the 3 years that these pieces were being created, I felt the extreme opposite of all of these characteristics. I lost my mother in October of 2006, one day after my 39th birthday. I cared for her in my home her last 10 months of life and she encouraged me daily to paint faces. She did not say portraits….she said faces. I doubted my ability to do so, as I am untrained in the world’s sense, but her unyielding belief in me made me accept the challenge. I completed two very stylized pieces that she got a chance to see a month before her passing. It was as if God himself instructed her to give me that message. It was so that I could use it to heal after He took her home. Each time I complete a piece I say aloud, “Mama, you were right. I can do this!”

It was not my intention to convey pride, strength, beauty, passion, power, endurance, love, joy, peace, patience, or anything in my work. I’ve been working through my grief while trying to uphold my duties as wife and mother. Being a help mate and at the same time supporting my children’s freedom to dream and create a place in this world for them. The same dream that my mother imparted in me. My work represents this journey. I did not set out to communicate any of the components seen, but I am happy that someone noticed.

So I say thank-you to Andrea for opening my heart to accept why create in the way that I do. When I was depressed and lonely, I created the opposite, maybe to lift my own spirits. During the times I was at my weakest, I created pieced that represented strength. During sad times, all kinds of doubts can creep in…so when I did not feel beautiful, I created it. I cannot say that I did this on purpose but what I can say was that my paintings were created in my soul. It is healing my broken pieces and it is my desire for it to heal others.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Beginnings of Long Suffering

I first laid eyes on this pensive gentleman in a civil rights newspaper from the sixties called The Southern Courier. http://www.southerncourier.org/ I was captured by his eyes because I felt like they held the story of his life. I took a picture of the newspaper itself so that I could paint him. He was a sharecropper in Alabama, if my memory of the article serves me correctly. I could imagine how difficult his life must have been during that time of our history. Working hard for little pay. Taking care of a family. Fighting racism and inequality. He appears to have lived a long life...the suffering had to be long as well.

It was a challenge for me to paint him because I wanted so badly for him to look like the photo . I re-painted the canvas white a dozen times before I decided that it was good enough. His likeness is a little off, but I think that I nabbed the essence of him. He looks like a typical African-American grandfather who is about to weave a long tale of walking 5 miles barefoot, on an empty stomach, in the snow.... all to get the education that we now take for granted.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009