Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Feminist art inquiry as a Humanitarian Endeavor

Pausing from painting and making notes of events to be added to the TimeLine....

This morning I watched a deer through the window as I washed the dishes. The scene from one perspective appeared peaceful and quiet, but for the deer I suspect it was a different experience. It seemed to eat nervously...looking up at every sound or movement, ready to dash off into the woods at the slightest hint of a threat. He presented a contrast to my peaceful and thoughtful creative hiatus.

Thinking about recent events and epiphanies my recollection of the visit with Kitty, featured in this picture, outside a reconstruction of a slave cabin - she is dressed in historical attire for the historical re-inactment.

I have been reflecting on how my perception and understanding of my cultural as well as intellectual inheritance has evolved - shifted and expanded.

Turning this issue of black feminism around in my mind as if it were an object being examined in hand - increasingly it is the humanitarian nature...the inclusiveness of it that seems to distinguish it from the more established feminist construction. At the same time my deconstruction of race persist in calling for my attention - when I peel back the layers of the socio-political construct I find diverse cultures anchored in a spiritually (rather than religious) imbued intellectual tradition. Mainstream feminism, like the predominate culture from which it emerges, our contributions like those of others marked as minorities, have been too often devalued.

I know their value.

Recently while discussing this with my Auntie she said something that had left behind an echo that persist - “While white women were out protesting and demanding the right to work, black women were working in their homes taking care of their children and cleaning their houses”

I thought this was a profound, if obvious, observation. Rather than pushing for the right to work - black women were/are asserting their right to freely select their occupations. In many cases, this has included being home to raise their own children.

After a long history of sexual exploitation, the journey to reclaim one’s self esteem and right to claim self as SELF is a paramount aspect of black feminism. Instead of focusing merely on women’s issues, black feminism (as I have internalized it) broadly wraps its arms around all who have been and are being oppressed. These personal experiences shape and give meaning to public histories.

Following a visit to the Living History Park in North Augusta, S.C. and a documentary about the progress and reactions to land redistribution in South Africa. First the living history park - we again visited with Kitty, who is in her seventies, volunteers to ensure that our historical experience is included in such projects.

Second, in the documentary a descendant of Dutch colonist, with black workers working in the background, tells the interviewer that the native blacks are unskilled and ill-equipped to do the work the enterprise required. I wonder who he thinks has been doing the work that has made his farm profitable up until the time he was expelled?

Why have the skills of our black ancestors been minimized or ignored when it made so many wealthy?

Black feminism, to my heart and mind, is about espousing the value of the workers and laborers, as well as everyone else. Its attention to equality and inclusion, feels more genuine and may offer a way forward in addressing the persistent issues of racism, classism, sexism, etc.

How does this translate into feminist art?

This piece (along with two others in this series) has been sold and is now in the private collection of R. Howard

Unlike much of what I have seen of feminist art that focuses on aspects of human physicality, my work seems to be more concerned with the experience of humanity from my cultural perspective(s).

I will post more pictures (eventually) of the more recent work(s) that are emerging as part of a "southern recollections" revisited series within my current cfAaP series.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Where does the road end?

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On the way back from Spartanburg we drove through Newberry following the road that is now considered the scene of a recent hate crime. Although I had read about and discussed the occurrence previously with a family member who lives near the area, seeing the scene of the crime has left behind a different kind of psychic residue - a deep sadness. Still our communities can not honestly address the depth of the issues even when they bubble to the surface with such violence.

"All that is certain is that a Black man – 30-year-old Anthony Hill – was shot in the head with a shotgun and his body was then tied by rope to the back of a truck and dragged for over 10 miles along a rural road in Newberry County, South Carolina.

Law enforcement followed a trail of blood and gore to the home of a white co-worker Gregory Collins."
Source: http://www.eurweb.com/?p=28609

As far as we have come, we still have so much farther to go. Where is the road from the past leading?