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Academic Level at Time of Creation
Date of Creation
As a young child, I was always interested in history. I found it fascinating how big or small events, directly or indirectly, affected the life that I am now living in today. Although my hometown was small, the history of it was enormous. Trips to the city museum fueled my love for history and the desire to learn even more about myself, my town, and my country. Being a person of color, I was aware of the adversity that my people have faced. Knowing the turbulent history that African Americans have faced in this country has always inspired me to create imagery that celebrated black people and educated others who are not aware of these atrocities.
My theme, Strange Fruit, was a term used to describe African Americans hanging from trees during the early 1900s. It was also a song sung by the late Billie Holiday, whose lyrics were the inspiration for my work. While creating prints for this exhibition, I considered all the things that I have absorbed, both from my personal life and my educational experience. I wanted to combine my love for art with my passion for history. As a child, I was aware of moments in history such as slavery, segregation, and discrimination; but that was as far as my knowledge went during that time. As an adult, I can dig deep and learn about the hidden moments kept from me to preserve my innocence. My goal is to take this newfound knowledge and use it to educate others. I have chosen to depict this theme to represent my feelings about this history and how many, including myself, have been shaped by it.
My style is heavily influenced by the work of fellow African American artists, Kehinde Wiley and Kara Walker. I enjoy the way their detail-packed scenes beautifully depict people of color while also providing some history for the viewer to take away. These unsung moments in history require a tremendous amount of detail and attention. The main form of printmaking I use, lithography, reflects this idea because it allows me to create detail-packed scenes while fulfilling my desire for realism through the heavy use of line and the ability to create a full range of value. My lithographs use a strong value scale that invites the viewer to examine the intense details. I use landscapes and still-life's as the primary objects in my compositions and then add smaller figurative elements that symbolize black obsessions. Lithography allows me to draw highly detailed images that are primarily black and white, adding formal contrast and movement to the composition. By combining these elements, I invite the viewer to take a closer look, examining the use of detail to discover the work's true content.
Timothy Martin; Nicole Hand-Bryant
For my senior exhibition I have chosen the topic of Strange Fruit. This is a term used in the early 1900s to address the victims of lynchings, and was also a song sang by the late Billie Holiday whose lyrics are the inspiration and titles for the imagery I will be presenting. For example, one verse of the song goes, “Pastoral scene of the gallant South, The bulgin’ eyes and the twisted mouth”. For this piece I am depicting a beautiful “pastoral scene” of families outside in a park-like area, enjoying the day with a beautiful view of the mountains. This will act as the initial part of the piece that will catch the viewers eye. In the trees in this park will be black bodies hanging. They are placed and drawn in a way that they almost seem hidden. This is my way of addressing the fact that during that time period, black people weren’t seen as real humans by a majority of the white population. The sight of black bodies hanging from trees did not bother most Caucasian people and many seemed to be pleased with this sight. My show will consist of five prints with an added sound element. I plan on playing the actual song, Strange Fruit, from an overhead speaker. This will help to really pull the viewer in and convey that feeling of deep emotion from each piece. I also plan on adding some kind of element to the wall that could tie it all together. I feel that this will make the work feel more cohesive and will add a nice finish.
My goal for this show is to teach viewers about the term and its history. I want to use this exhibition as a way to educate others who may not be aware of this term and inspire them to go out and educate themselves on subjects such as this. This desire to educate others through my art comes from my concern about that state of this world and our country specifically. With so much division occurring among us, I think it is very important to know the history and recognize the times that we have been able to overcome and grow from. I want viewers to see where we’ve come and understand that the growth only came when the people decided enough was enough and came together to make change. After viewing my show, I would like for viewers to not only leave with the knowledge of the term, but also a drive to go out and educate others about our history. To accomplish this vision for the show, I will use an overhead speaker for the sound element of the exhibit. I plan on presenting five prints. All prints will be done using lithography and two of the five will also include some color using screen printing. The piece titled Strange Fruit is sized at 22" x 22". The southern tree piece is sized at 36" x 28". The pastoral scene is sized at 28" x 36". The magnolia piece is sized at 36" x 28". The butterfly piece is sized at 24" x 36".
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Whitaker, Tia, "Strange Fruit" (2020). B.A./B.S. Practicum Group Exhibit (ART 499). 45.