Tales from The b.a.SKET: Black Art Sketches for the Contemporary Art Lover
By D. Amari Jackson
This week, we reach into the b.a.SKET and pull out an historic meeting between two extraordinary African American women…
“However I am perceived and deceived, however my ignorance and conceits, lay aside your fears that I will be undone, for I shall not be moved.”
These powerful, defiant, yet poignant words come from Maya Angelou’s lyrical poem “Our Grandmother,” a work based on a woman running from slavers and pulling from her experiences to inform her children about life’s injustices. They appear in the popular 1997 painting, Together We Stand, by iconic artist and art historian, Dr. Samella Lewis, adorning a sign held up by a young girl surrounded by several adults. A lithograph embellished by hand, Lewis incorporated this last stanza of Angelou’s poem as a means of tying together themes of family, self-acceptance, perseverance, generational wisdom, and inner peace.
A New Orleans native, Lewis came of age enduring the harsh racism and legal discrimination of the Jim Crow era. Consistently, her works—prolifically produced over the better part of a century—tend to address such themes while advocating for Black and female empowerment and championing the relevant plight of families and youth. Similar to the late Angelou, Lewis employed art as a tool for coping with a racialized and inequitable society, focusing a critical lens on its associated ills, and inspiring traditionally marginalized groups.
That acknowledged, her ultimate message is quintessentially human.
“I fight against segregation, discrimination, racism, brutality and depravity because these things deny people their rights as human beings,” Lewis once offered.
“I feel everyone should be liberated from excessive brutality and situations confining them to a discouraging and demeaning place in life.”
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Amari Jackson is a creator, author, TV/web/film producer, and award-winning journalist. He is author of the 2011 novel, The Savion Sequence; creator/writer/coproducer of the 2012-2014 web series The Book Look; writer/coproducer of the 2016 film Edge of the Pier; and current writer/coproducer of Listen Up! on HBCU GO/Roku TV. He is a former Chief of Staff for a NJ State Senator; a former VP of Communications & Development for the Jamestown Project at Harvard University; and a recipient of several writing fellowships including the George Washington Williams Fellowship from the Independent Press Association. An active ghost writer, song writer, martial artist, and journalist, his writings have appeared in a wide variety of national and regional publications.
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