Art moves us to see and feel the unseen, in both its beauty and ugliness. Line is a primary tool tracing the immediate connection among mind, hand, and heart.
In “Civil Rights: Before and After”—my latest body of work—centuries of oppression are brought home in works on paper. One drawing depicts the journeys of those who escaped enslavement. Another shows the routes of ships transporting kidnapped peoples from Africa. Other pieces show the “value” of human beings being traded; the numbers of enslaved people and lynchings by state; maps of the underground railroad; moments from the Civil Rights movement; missions of the NAACP, CORE, SCLC, SNCC, and the Black Panthers; writings of W.E.B. Du Bois; numbers of unarmed black men killed in the U.S. between 2015 and 2019; and histories of redlining.
The issue of a white person exploring a black person’s experience comes up- a valid question. Artists work on what is compelling to them. Sometimes there is a gap between the artist’s intention and what is seen as appropriation. The sheer numbers of oppressed and enslaved people, the events violent and non-violent, permanently scorch the brutality of our oppression of African Americans and the magnitude of this sorrow into one’s soul.
“Civil Rights” draws on data and records yet is far from impersonal. The tiny lines and marks in the works each represent a person or journey and call for close examination, as this subject does.
Following the thread of art revealing the unseen, earlier installations and two-dimensional works of mine collaborate with and draw from natural phenomena including soil, wind, water, and light. I seek to make visible the beauty of nature, its changes, and its unseen forces. I wish viewers to engage with nature‘s vast power. My installations are extended, three-dimensional “drawings” in space that situate us in movement and sound, silence and contemplation. I seek to capture fleeting moments of wonder.
I work in two and three dimensions and in various media: pencil, ink, paint, earth, and wood, among others. With all my work, my hope is to engage viewers in a quest. Can the staggering depths of our inhumanity be depicted and comprehended through art, or the magnitude of such forces as geological time? How does art awaken our understanding of the world—its precious people, its limited resources and the need to value, preserve, and protect them? With art, can we suspend our previous notions and expand our capabilities as human beings?