August 30, 2012

New Quilts

His Instruments of Justice, 2012

His Instruments of Justice
Harry T. Moore will never be the symbol of civil rights that Martin Luther King, Jr. has become.  I made art about him because he was a fieldworker for human rights, the first civil rights worker killed in the line of duty and because he was a teacher activist.  He drove many miles through Central Florida to investigate the suppression of voting rights, police brutality and to organize black resistance to Florida’s Jim Crow laws.  His work was dangerous, lonely, fulfilling and frustrating.  Because of my own experience with human rights work I am in awe of his accomplishments, as well as sad and angry he was taken from us.   His murderers were never punished.    

His Instruments - detail

His Instruments - detail

His Instruments - detail

Take all the memories your hands can hold
My favorite images of the Great Migration come from Jacob Lawrence’s series.  I had to be careful not to duplicate his amazing work.  I decided to go in a different direction.  I once asked my mother’s father to tell me about his journey from Natchez, Mississippi to Chicago Illinois in 1920.  He only said,  “I escaped from the south and will never go back.  Don’t you ever go there.”  I wanted to portray the untold memories.  I wanted us to think about the people of the past and how we carry them with us even when we don’t know who they are. 

Take all - detail

We hid in the woods and the swamp
When I conjure the images of Rosewood, Florida – the black town that no longer exists – I mostly ‘see’ families hiding in the woods and swamp for a week while their town was burned to the ground by a white mob in 1923.  You have to experience the Florida scrub to get a sense of what that means.  The cold, the smell of smoke, the sounds of shots fired, of fire.  That the story was buried for so long, well I can’t think how to portray that part.

We hid - detail

1 comment:

  1. Oh.My.Gosh! These quilts are amazing. Individually they are a feast for the eyes and soul. When the story is told, they fully feed the spirit. Your work is important to me because we must never forget the stories. Your work is inspirational because of its depth and breadth AND because it has a really good beat and I can dance to it!

    Love ya