Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Symbol of "Strange Fruit" blooms again

Jacob Lawrence, plate 15

What is going on in America? Why have so many people chosen to tear open old wounds that should be long forgotten. Why are nooses appearing all over the country? (Click here to see updated map)Maybe it's that too much forgetting has occurred, the tragedy of those events have not been taught to newer generations. Leonard Pitts' A History of Rope essay drives home this point with full on horror.
Though I never saw a lynching, I have heard stories through my family of lynching in which people brought children and picnic baskets. Luckily artists like Jacob Lawrence, Joe Jones, Samuel Brown, Robert Colescott, Larry Rivers, Melvin Edwards, and others have in the past engaged their art to speak out against lynching and racial terrorism. Dora Apel's book "Imagery of Lynching" does a good job of covering these artists' efforts, though not enough of the images are in color- maybe a cost thing. Rather than documenting photographs, artists have the ability to document human tragedy while giving full breadth to human dignity and hope, ex: Plat 15 above. There used to be a bumper sticker that read "Fear no Art." It should be read "Fear = no Art." It's time to put art back into our educational system, before we loose all our humanity.

What artists among us today will speak out? To be continued......

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