I imagined that the idea for enslaved folks to paint the doors ocean blue was passed around as people were moved around the Southern States during enslavement. Blue doors are said to ward off evil spirits.
The narrative on this piece imagines the formula and when to apply it being handed down by a new person from a different region and being repeated and applied.
15×45 image development, yard, thread, leather and printed text with thread accents. Original Narrative text by Jas. C. Mardis
Photo Credit: Title: Old Negro (former slave) Willis Winn with horn with which slaves were called. Near Marshall, Texas Creator(s): Lee Russell, 1903-1986, photographer, U.S. Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black & White Photographs
I have a friend who is leaving town for a new job😢. I don’t have time to make a quilt but wanted to see if an “iron-framed tapestry” would do.
The image and top quote are from one of her FB posts. I added the bottom text; stitched leather wrapping with yarn and thread binding and, hopefully, a worthy design.
Repurposed and manipulated iron frame. Bamboo strips. Goat hide leather from Kenya (Thanks to Pan African Connection). Mesh fabric with high-end computer printing of an image from her personal FB post with top quoting from a Southern Spiritual with multi-layered color text and image printing.
This is a new creative direction that I can clearly see myself enjoying for a long time to come. Memory and the idea that fabric, metals and all of the items of our lives carry memory is both intriguing and very enlightening. Being able to add original poetic narratives completes the perfect art-marriage. I am finding that I cannot create as fast as I dream.
Certainly in this case the friend who I created this piece for has opened up a world of joyous and precious awakening. Missing is not a complete enough word for her absence.
If you are enjoying this piece and wondering what I might dream up for you as a gift or art piece, let me invite you to “tell me a story”, “send me a photograph” or just let me know that you’d like to see other pieces in this line of work.
“Flood Water Ain’t Never Blue” is the experience of two young girls during the great Arkansas flood of February 1937. It was a dangerous time, but a time when a girl met her best friend for life. They also learned a version of the folktale about why it rains while the sun is still shining. My Grandmother used to tell me about this flood from her youth. I found this picture while doing family history research on that flood.
From the “Eye Witness Series” from Jas. Mardis
Photo credit: Walker Evans and US Farm Security Administration collection
I have three pieces accepted in the juried show “blkART214” at the South Dallas Cultural Center in Dallas, Texas, just up the street from the State Fair Grounds. Shows runs April 9-29, 2017 and features established and emerging Artists of Color from the DFW Metro.
I’m excited to finally be on the Arthello Beck Gallery’s wall! This Cultural Center that I saw being built is turning 30 years old. There are awards and one Artist will be selected for a solo gallery show.
I entered: “Am I Human To You Yet?: The Return of the African Dodger; From The Front Porch; and Sketches of Fatherhood.
The tapestry, “Am I Human To You Yet?: The Return of the African Dodger” was recently returned from a three month show at The Holocaust Museum of Houston.
I’m glad that these three were selected. They are three different pieces featuring: leather burning, thread and yarn couching, poetry/text, image printing on fabric, coinage, wire… and metal work alongside leather and image transferring. “Fatherhood” is from a series of 10 tapestries made from a vintage tablecloth.
Before I see you again
I will think of the way you consider your words with me
I will consider the smiles that you have held onto
and returned to your breast as though you needed back the breath
I will see you coming thru every door and down every hallway
always a surprise worthy of reliving
worth the price of the aloneness that follows
and going away again
slipping thru sudden moments
creating and creasing your way into my hope: a Christmas unto yourself
I will begin each one of my next sentences with a loud laugh
I will start them over again and again
for each time that
I imagine you will smile
even with your face and beating heart so fully turned into worship
before I see you again
before you enter and sway and send forth your glow
before there is a shivering thought and smile of my own over you
before I can remember that other women walk the Earth
before the Sun warms your skin
before it spreads your smile
before it slits your eyes into that pencil-thin gaze that you’ve perfected
being adored …
go ahead and know that I’m always
until it happens again
Jas. Mardis /12-16
Jas. Mardis is a 2014 Inductee of the Texas Literary Hall of Fame and Editor of “KenteCloth: Southwest Voices of the African Diaspora, UNT PRESS
If you are in the Houston, Texas area please stop by the Holocaust Museum of Houston and check out the juried exhibition, Genocide: Man’s Inhumanity to Humankind, and my contribution, titled: “Am I Human to You Yet?: The Return of the African Dodger“.
Did you know that the Dunk Tank is a compromise to the Amusement Park human target game where baseballs and stones were thrown at African-American men’s heads…all across America…for years?
Did you know that the men were often maimed, blinded and even killed as a result of professional athletes and gangs of White youths ambushing the “African Dodger”?
Did you know that there is currently a shooting target being sold at Gun Shows called “The Running Nigger Target” and the scoring target is the penis, just like in lynchings where the penis was often removed as a souvenir?
Come by the exhibition and see multiple takes of the theme of Man’s Inhumanity to Humankind. At the Artist Reception the crowd was googling the subject matter out of disbelief. It is a grand show.
GENOCIDE: Man’s Inhumanity to Humankind”
a September 30, 2016throughDecember 31, 2016 Holocaust Museum Houston’s first contemporary juried exhibit, “GENOCIDE: Man’s Inhumanity to Humankind,” includes 65 selections representing 2D and 3D media. Works featured are from the more than 600 submissions by Texas area artists, with the exception of film and video. This contemporary art exhibition explores the suffering humans are capable of bestowing on one another. “GENOCIDE” is the brainchild of Holocaust Museum Houston’s changing exhibitions committee, including Gus Kopriva, owner of the Redbud Gallery in Houston, and Clint Willour, curator for the Galveston Arts Center. Willour also was the juror of the exhibition. He has served as juror for numerous commercial and non-profit organizations. The topic of genocide is part of HMH’s mission to teach the dangers against hatred, prejudice and apathy. Through the eyes of each artists’ work, these lessons are reflected vividly, hauntingly and provocatively with the understanding of the brutality and senselessness of such acts. Inviting artists with ties to Texas inspires collaboration with the museum and further promotes the programs and activities of HMH. Privately donated cash prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place and a catalogue will be produced. HMH members are invited to a reception from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, October 19, 2016, with opening remarks by Gus Kopriva and Clint Willour at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free, but advance registration is required for this reception. Visit http://www.hmh.org/RegisterEvent.aspx to RSVP online.