Fact and Fiction:
The stories we learn about individuals--whether they be historical or taken from recent headlines--can be incomplete narratives. We learn facts and statistics, or sensationalized intimate details that are used to push an agenda or to sell interest in a publication. Since we are so fond of colorful stories, I thought it would be interesting if the events that describe non-fictional characters were actually taken from fiction. For example, using part of the prologue from Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man" (where the character is describing his frustration of not being seen) with the image of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassin, James Earl Ray, provides a method of insight into an otherwise incomprehensible mind. Another image from this proposed series is that of a child soldier with text from the "Lord of the Flies", a story where children established their own laws and advantages of a newly established civilization. Using these fictional stories is not meant for entertainment. These classic tales of the imagination are tools that frame these individuals as human beings who made decisions and may have been forced into events that we would all find challenging . The fiction is meant to establish empathy and invite introspection upon the actions of these persons. Knowledge is not a mere quantity--it also permits a quality of understanding to be cherished and shared.
This series, Rituals of Water, deals with the element of water and the significance and impact of water on African Americans: the Transatlantic slave trade, the U.S. Civil Rights movement, and (future work in the series): Katrina.
These three pieces are from the series "Transition", using images of former slaves. Each composition is accompanied with text that refers to other commodities involved in the trade. For example "For Sugar" = rum that was made from the sugar that slaves cut and processed, "For Arms" = guns and ammunition that were traded for slaves and rum, and "For Souls" = the slaves who were captured and traded to fuel the slave trade industry.
“Dry Season” addresses how water was used in an attempt to disperse civil rights demonstrators in the South, using images based on the photographs of Charles Moore. As with the pieces from the Transatlantic slavery section, the images are fluid as if the figures are composed of water, or being washed away by it. Each one of the images in this section features text that describes certain physical aspects of water, such as, “surface tension”, “evaporation”, and “universal solvent”. The text is not meant as a title, but as a device to extend the narrative and to create comparisons and contrasts on how water was used in this instance. Coinciding with the U.S. Civil Rights movement, in S. Africa, where Blacks resisted oppression under apartheid, S. African police used water canons to disperse protesters, dying the water with purple colorant, in what was termed Purple Rain.
All the paintings in Rituals of Water are composed of ink, water, and salt to create a sense of the figures being simultaneously at one and in opposition with water. Each painting measure 60"x40 on paper.
There are also limited edition woodcuts, created over the past year. The three editions reflect many of the themes and ideas that are in my larger original works, but on a more managable scale.
Each of the three editions are all hand pulled with edition sizes ranging from 5-14, including artists proofs. Hand colored using dry pigment.