Here is an addition to the previous side trail of 1992. You may recall that George Clyke wanted to do more with his collection of newspaper clippings and generations of photos than to simply store it in his notebooks, and had invited me into his home to see if any of it triggered artistic ideas. I enjoyed looking at these and with his permission photographed some of the images that interested me. I eventually created a small body of paintings and drawings which I called “Emancipation”, and later exhibited at the A Gallery, owned by Audrey Hanrahan, in Truro.
Most of that collection remains stored somewhere in my studio. I did sell one piece to Jack Sherriff of Wolfville, a portrait of a young boy whom I was teaching at the time, and which you can see the poor quality image of in the attached news clipping.
My favourite and most poignant piece is “I didn’t want her to be Black”. Depicting a blurry portrait of an unnamed woman dressed in a pattern similar to an African-style batik. In the lower register of frayed canvas with applied string relief I have another African-inspired design. I wanted her to look African, although her combed and tied hairstyle would have been typical of women of the time the original photograph was taken.
The title comes from my childhood. One of the many African Canadian students in my grade 5 class was Lynn Jones. Lynn with the beautiful singing voice and large caring personality. Across the classroom rows, we sat across from each other. From the limits of my grade 5 understanding I knew she faced prejudice because of her heritage, and for that reason I didn’t want her to be Black. I admired her so. I am now ashamed that I felt that way and for me this painting exposes the smear upon my so-called civilization.
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