Strength

In one of its definitions, a veil is a fabric used to conceal, cover, or hide the real nature of a form or figure. It is often transparent but its presence is undeniable. In the case of the social world when connecting the idea of sustainability to the veil; it is clear that the veil hinders the possibility of such sustainability. When thinking about sustainability, how do we measure such an aspect? When thinking about the balance of economy, society, and the environment, we question whether such progress is possible. When defining balance in this context, we need to narrow down each subcontext of society, economy, and the environment to explain how each, need to be balanced internally, and then do play off of one another, creating this frame and template called sustainability.

Speaking specifically about society, I have never known of such internal sustainability in real life. The reason as to why this balance doesn’t exist internally is because there is division and disconnect present within it. This factioning is fueled by the fear of diversity. In this context, diversity can be defined as the mixture and assortment of people from different backgrounds of all types, political, socioeconomic, racial, etc.   Continue reading “Strength”

Living Epistle

There is no doubt to state that Steve Prince’s art has plenty and if not always, biblical symbolism. Steve Prince is an artist from New Orleans, Louisiana and a devout Catholic. He in many of his pieces incorporates the messages and symbols from the bible in order to illuminate the importance and the consistency of religion in our lives and specifically the Christian faith. He is at work trying to ingrain how faith is apart of our human existence and how we are in fact the flesh, bones, and evidence of such faith. In his piece Living Epistle, Prince speaks on the living letters that we all are, people read and sometimes misread our surfaces. But we as human beings of good reason have the words of God written on us and so we must never forget to live by his grace, and praise.

 

Living Epistle Linocut “50 x 37”

Prose for Africa

It’s like they raped Africa.

And when I say “they,” I mean those who chose, and choose, because it’s both historically and futuristically, to take whatever resources Africa provided and provides without asking for permission. They manipulate, con and steal. And sometimes they commit murder in the highest degree. This was all that was taught to me about my history. There is a likeliness that such trauma from a constant motion of oppression will never  reside to distance itself from those who are directly linked and sub linked to it. They are and will forever be affected by such relentless and unnecessary persecution.

W.E.B Du bois knew of such affects and recognized how they impacted the African American community. Du bois was a civil rights activist, sociologist, historian, Pan- Africanist, writer and author, In his “ Souls of Black Folk” written in 1903 he describes, the Veil of Race, which metaphorically speaks to the divider that separates the oppressors and the oppressed. In my natural world the oppressed has always been African people, whose descendants, now call themselves African American. What has grown now to be the motivation within in this group of people is the constant proving to non people of color that they are able to meet their standards in the social atmosphere. It’s constantly having to prove your worth because right from the beginning, right from Africa your worth counted on how many hours a day you could work before you broke, or how much money you could be sold for, how strong and equip your body was, how entertaining and clown like you could be. African Americans had become a stamp of stereotypes in America and where marked and measured as dangerous and ill deserving. Colonizers and conquest have created a divide among African and African American people, to the point of no return. And even after that, out of systematic and generational oppression, leaders were born, to encourage the masses that African Americans belonged in the country in which they were forcefully brought and bought into.

Someone who does a great job at representing such growth is artist Steve Prince. A New Orleans, Louisiana born Catholic who has used his art to reinforce a remembrance within our culture now of many who have struggled within this country. In a piece called “ A Jazz Song with a Lot of Blue Notes” Steve is able to artistically symbolize almost like a timeline of the African American experience, where at the bottom you have figures, figures that are not detailed in features they are clumped together and tightly packed. This part of the composition can explain the disconnect between the African American community and the many who have come before them. Unfortunately  as it was the documentation of African ancestry was in fact never if so barely documented. As result of that, divergence is rooted, and the making of two different cultures had begun. However emerging out of such brutal hardships is that of leaders, families, faith, and change. Out of all the ugly there is something most beautiful at how accomplished a stolen and oppressed people could be. For instance Steve’s portrait of the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama. 

It encourages the idea that African American people are more than a stolen people, they can do more and be more, regardless of being and doing so as proof to another.

 

Image result for jazz notes steve prince

Who is Prince?

Steve Prince is an educator, and artist, and a devoted Catholic who has made it his mission to spread this sense of remembrance to people and students across the world. His artworks are full of rhythm and movement, in still like frames that almost seem to capture every narrative referenced or self made. His common medium is usually printmaking. He uses linoleum cuts in order to create his pieces, a style of art where labor is intense. Usually his pieces are in black and white which contrasts normally, to the context of the pieces which are not so simply “black and white.” The pieces are usually commentary of our world’s histories and narratives. Entwined in his pieces is that of biblical symbolism that is influenced by Prince’s own faith and that which could be the faith of others like him. His works are powerful and tells of the constant struggle, beauty, and pain. Many pieces also tell of hope for the future and takes into account the sustainability, or balance, of the worlds societies, environment, and economy.

I value Prince’s work because he is working toward world progression in being able to confront our sour history, and he is trying to reach out to students, which I appreciate because his art gives hope and a platform to build conversation about the world and what needs to be changed.

  Plant in Me Linocut   36″ x 22″  

Splinters and the Cave

Splinters by Amina Diakité

When the night splinters

Fractured by a sense of static

We open our eyes to a glimpse

Of warmth that touches our cheeks

To our chins

To see glass portray a picture of trees

Pierced by light of color

Through branches strong

We sink deep into the lush of comfortable

To only understand the confliction

Of being blessed for another day

Yet only wanting to pull at the silent and limp

Who stay in a sleep like death

Without darkness there would be no light

How blessed you must be to see the light

If only they knew that light could blind

 

When reading this poem I couldn’t help but connect this bittersweet truth, to that of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. The truth, is knowing the reasons for the disconnect between those within the Veil and outside of the Veil. This circumstantial analogy had popped up in the INTD class, the Art of Steve Prince in it’s comparison to W.E.B Dubois’s Veil which explains the implication of knowledge and the lack thereof. I felt it explained the allegory adequately which, also illuminates to real life situations. The allegory goes to explain a group of individuals who are forced to live in a cave, they are blind to what real life has to offer and are limited to what information they are told. One of the individuals is freed and is able to experience life in its entirety, later after enjoying freedom and realizing that everything they’ve learned had only been a fraction of what the world is actually about that freed individual goes back into the cave in order to help and explain to his captivated peers that what they have learned of the world is a lie, he will then try to help free them. The rest of the captivated individuals however get mad at the freed individual and in a group like fashion they decide to resist against what the freed individual is saying. Later the captivated create this trio that states that if anyone tried to take another person out if the cave then it would mean death for said deliverer. How does this connect to the real world and W.E.B. Du bois Veil? When we think about the Veil we get to understand that it serves as a dividing factor between the haves and the have nots. The have nots are the poor, impoverished, low skilled, undervalued, uneducated, and the have’s are everything but. 

When someone from the have nots side makes it across the Veil you would expect for their to be celebration. But usual that individual is looked down upon, whether from jealousy or out of spite.  There is this constant pulling and balancing of both worlds. The poem goes to relate to that constant balance and for the most part the imbalance where such disconnect between the two groups on either side of Du bois’s Veil. There should not be any disconnected when we look at this analogy. There should be no forced individuals who are made to spend the rest of their lives in caves, and there should be no gabble to hurt or dismiss an individual trying to help people leave the cave. People should be willing to leave there oppressive state and people not in the oppressive state should make it their duty to help those who are.

Prince’s Urban Stations

Steve Prince’s Urban Station is a contextualized narrative that tells a contemporary story of the Holy God and how he helps us to recognize when we need each other when someone may be down. In each station the story of a man who has been falsely accused is told, and in each image we see a symbol of the church in different ways, one way being the cross.  Each station tells a story that, Prince explicitly explains in context to the image. He sometimes only using one line that helps to invoke thought to how text and image connect. It is his hope that we understand how prayer is deeply embedded in our daily lives inspiring us to act. There are 14 station in total in this piece.   

 

Urban Stations by Steve Prince

Urban Station 1

Space

Spacial awareness is a skill I have not yet  mastered. Living in, Bronx, New York, in a neighborhood with people, who for the most part look like me, never led me to ask myself about how I took up space.

But what do I mean, when I talk about “taking up space?” Do I mean the fundamental physicalities of one’s body being in a particular environment? Do I mean the presence, impact and influence that someone leaves on their community, their society? Could I mean both?  When I think about how I take up space now, I am more aware of my mannerisms, my choice to speak in certain environments, how much room I create for others, and what influences I place on the world outside of me.

The dance lecture from Dr. Broomfield paired with Professor Amanda Roth’s Philosophy of Women’s course had helped me to ask myself how do I take up space as an African American young women. These experiences have made me reflect on how personal themes connect to the work and artwork of Steve Prince, a  printmaker, educator and evangelist from New Orleans, Louisiana, and the man of subject in the INTD 288 class marked The Art of Steve Prince.

When Steve Prince came on residency to Geneseo it was clear that he was a man who took up as much as he could, and to add, he felt comfortable in that space. Me however not so much. For instance I constantly contemplate my position in this secondary institution. Being in a class or social setting where I am constantly second guessing the words that I am using in order to explain myself is exhausting, but it’s what i’ve been doing my entire life to some degree . There is always that doubt of not being competent or not having a certain “level” of competence as my peers.

As an African American college student, in a school that is predominately white there is a lot of unfamiliarity that makes me uncomfortable at times. There are moments when I notice i’m the only African American person in a room, or  when in a meeting, or in a group. Race is the first difference that I notice but why is that? Why don’t I feel comfortable in certain spaces. Why do I create more space for others and allow myself to me shrunken down. When discussed in the context of both classes, we talk about the internalization and the teachings of subordination. In my philosophy class we had an introduction to the patriarchal world that has manifested itself into American society, it has also lead women to be at the feet of and to upmost practice the passive individual.

Growing up as a black young woman in a patriarchal society, where at the top white men rest, is something that I have well been aware of to an extent.

    Growing up as child I had not fantasized about being a white person for no reason, I had done so because they were the ones in the magazines, on tv, and in person were the ones seen as beautiful, intelligent, and desirable. But if women were at the bottom of patriarchy, then where does that leave other groups who are non-white and why would I want to be a cog in such a machine? Why would I want to take up that societal space?.

Young women are  trained to take up less space. African Americans were  told to be nonexistent, i.e. to not be seen when company comes but do the work anyways. So where does that leave the African American women and every intersectional group that has been excluded from this narrative of demand, command, and power?  

I enjoy the artworks of Steve Prince because he is able to address the lasting influences of such a system and the unjust, subordinating spaces in which African Americans are forced to fill . For instance Prince’s piece  “Nine Little Indians” tells a story of the Little Rock 9 a reference to to the 9 African American children in 1957 Arkansas, who integrated the public school system. Generally speaking, school systems now are a result of the effort to push integration and diversity by many before us. This lack exposure of one group of people to another, and because of historical context, specifically segregation, slavery, all of these important aspects have and still influence the modern world we see now. Those events are the reasons why i’m the only African American in room full of 30.  Of why sometimes I choose to give more room to others, and play to the nonexistent role.

Beyond all the horrible institutional and patriarchal systems, there is still a choice in which I am given, where I have to be forceful and willing to disrupt the cycle.  Attending SUNY Geneseo, a predominantly white institution (PWI), has given me the opportunity to actively exercise that ability to stir change . Being here I plan to start taking up as much space as I can. I want to work on breaking the stifling cycles of the past, and recognizing that it can only be accomplished by talking about the world, and working against those factors meant to suppress, To continue resisting, and fighting.

 

The Price

A history permanently erased is not enough to question who I am, for who I am is more than my history. However my history does play a role as to why I am here. And then there is the question to why am I here?  A question that will probably remain unanswered by the end of this post and time  itself. I had recently come into contact with two artist that had taught me to look at line and space in unimaginable ways. There is the literal sense of looking at space and line as they surround you. And then there is that of the imaginary lines and space in which we use to limit or extend ourselves.

My history connects to imaginary space and line as to explain that I’ve been taught as my parents before me have been taught to think in a particular manor. To never go outside the lines, and to go around such space. Growing up in America I have become spoiled yet hindered in the way that I think, and that is not to just blame the country. My hindrance is in part my own responsibility. But it does not become hard to blame another identity for your restraints. Especially when in part they hold some responsibility. The idea of America’s biggest mistake, slavery, being something to confront, gives us a power like no other. We are able to acknowledge at least out loud that the damaging and genocide of innocent people were and is wrong. But we later think after confronting such issues what do we do? After the struggle what is there? I find it hard to celebrate when the consequences are so severe. Trauma is lasting generations affecting our mental health and what are we to do? How do we move on when moving on doesn’t always feel right? 

As a first year student I am struggling to find out who I am as a person and what my purpose is, all I have come up with so far is uncertainty. I have tried to look into history to see that all that has been done, the fighting, and protesting, and the endurance of lost and discrimination are sacrifices that I am reaping the benefits of. There is a guilt of not paying that sacrifice the justice that it deserves. But I can assume that not knowing, and having that freedom to exercise uncertainty is to in a way pay such sacrifice a thank you. And to be welcoming to the idea that history however ugly and blotchy it may be, the acts of fighting and continuous fighting were made for such benefits and should be celebrated. While looking at the work of Steve Prince, particularly Urban Mix-tape I was able to see the in-clarity in our history as African Americans. But I was also able to see clearly what came out of such a dark error, and era. And I think in time, although it will prove difficult I will be able to see the beauty in it somewhere.

 

Image result for steve prince the artist the art work with the Dj

(Fertile Mind by Steve Prince)