Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Storms


Storms (2011), 24" x 19.5" - Ramona Dallum Lindsey, artist
Storms are a reality of life.  Often they sneak up on you unexpectedly.  Sometimes you see warning signs off in the distance.   For many people, storms foster emotions of impending doom.  While others exude peace in the midst of raging storms.   Life's most challenging times are equated with storms.  The mild challenges are a gentle summer storm lasting only a moment.  Life's extreme challenges are raging tempests spawned by violent winds.

Storms, the fourth piece in the Profiles of Courage Series, explores a community's reaction to life's challenges.   Each person at some point experiences some life challenge.  The effects of each person's handling of the challenge can have a lasting impact on the community at large.   A mother faced with unemployment turns to crime for daily survival.  A teen envisioning a hopeless future devalues the preciousness of life. A husband unable to effectively communicate with a spouse or partner acts abusive.  A young girl longing for love from an absent father becomes promiscuous. I live in a metropolis containing over 2 million people. The same storms that rage through our metropolis exist in the smallest town.   Our storms are just more pronounced due to the sheer number of people reacting to their own storm.
 
How can a community get through its storms without self-destructing?  I propose the answer is people of faith.  Their thoughts, prayers, and actions envelop the community.  In the community's darkest hours people of faith are lights chasing away the darkness.   Often they are faithful mothers, grandmothers, and daughters with nurturing spirits.  They're guided by strong prayer lives.  These prayer warriors minds' are fixed on their men and children.  Their strength is drawn from a higher power.  This strength is a protective blanket of hope.  Soon the storms become obscure and faith prevails.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Mind Control



After completing  “Do You Hear What I Hear” (2011), I realized that every man of faith is accompanied by a woman of the same character.   Mind Control represents her.   This third piece in the "Profiles in Courage" Series, shows science’s ability to explain some things and its limitation to fathom others.
   
Science has proven sound travels in waves of varying frequencies.   Humans detect sound waves with their ears.  Receptors in the ear carry the waves to the brain.  The brain interprets the information from the ear and lets  us know what we are hearing.   Scientist have used MRI technology to study the brain’s reaction to different types of sounds.   The technology allows scientists to see which areas of the brain are most excited by the sound stimulus.  I believe emotion is measured through our level of excitement.  If you’re really emotional the MRI will reveal higher levels of brain activity. But an MRI cannot reveal human thought.

If an MRI could read the thoughts of a woman of faith after receiving bad news, it would reveal something peculiar.    After hearing pronouncements of foreclosure, unemployment, and slow economy, her thought revealing MRI would see faith, hope, and opportunity.  How do I know?   Because I’ve experienced it.   I know my actions and spoken my words.  When the world marinated on seemingly impossible situations, I've hung on to possibilities.  I've turned pronouncements of doom into a new beginning while all the time relying on the power of my great big God.  A mind controlled by faith makes the impossible possible.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Do You Hear What I Hear?


Do You Hear What I Hear? (2011) - mixed media textile
The second piece in the "Profiles of Courage Series",  was completed on June 29, 2011 – the day of my 15th wedding anniversary.  “Do You Hear What I Hear?” is my tribute to the man I embraced in marriage.  It is a testament to the man of faith he has become through every challenging obstacle we have faced together.  He is also a science lover.  His tribute must combine faith with science.  “Do You Hear What I Hear” shows science’s ability to explain some things and its limitation to fathom others.
   
Science has proven sound travels in waves of varying frequencies.   Humans detect sound waves with their ears.  Receptors in the ear carry the waves to the brain.  The brain interprets the information from the ear and lets  us know what we are hearing.   Scientist have used MRI technology to study the brain’s reaction to different types of sounds.   The technology allows scientists to see which areas of the brain are most excited by the sound stimulus.  I believe emotion is measured through our level of excitement.  If you’re really emotional the MRI will reveal higher levels of brain activity. But an MRI cannot reveal human thought.

If an MRI could read the thoughts of my husband after receiving bad news, it would reveal something peculiar.    After hearing pronouncements of foreclosure, unemployment, and slow economy, his thought revealing MRI would see faith, hope, and opportunity.  How do I know?   Because I’ve stood by him and heard the pronouncements with him.   I’ve watched his actions and heard his words.  When the world - and his wife - marinated on seemingly impossible situations, he hung on to possibilities.  He turned each pronouncement of doom into a new beginning while all the time relying on the power of his great big God.

Martin Cornelius Lindsey thank you for being our Christian family’s man of faith.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Built On Nothing Less

I am a woman of faith.  My strength alone is incapable of handling the challenges  of life.  I depend on my beliefs as a Christian to stand confidently and walk assuredly through difficulties.  Built on Nothing Less is the first piece in the “Profiles of Courage” Series.
 

The human face is intriguing.  A lifetime of stories are hidden within its contours. The eyes are the window to the soul.  Unfortunately in our fast paced, high tech lives we neglect opportunities to look at each other face to face.  Instead, we glance upon profiles of heads bowed to electronic devices.  A person's profile provides limited insight into her psyche.  When you only have access to her profile, you must depend on other clues to determine what is going on within her.   "Profiles  in Courage" examines these clues. 
 
Built on Nothing Less is the story of a mother totally submitting to a higher power to handle the concerns of her heart and mind.  Hidden within her flowing locks are the images of a broken community.  Written on her mind are her concerns about joblessness, crime, and foreclosures.  But she is undergirded by a warm, all encompassing energy.  Her head and eyes are lifted toward the source of this energy.   Her hands are folded in submission as she appeals for the deliverance of her family and community, because she knows with faith, hope, and love comes peace.  Her future is built on nothing less than this.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Introducing Profiles in Courage Series

The beginning of the twenty-first century  brought with it many challenges.  The evolution of technology during this time period led to many societal changes.   Our world became smaller with increased access to information.  People began to relate to each other through machines rather than face-to-face.   Centuries old education practices were forced to evolve to meet the high demands of a world with greater access to information.  World economies shifted.   Many people lost jobs.  "Profiles in Courage" explores how a person approaches and handles the challenges of the twenty-first century.


The human face is intriguing.  A lifetime of stories are hidden within its contours. The eyes are the window to the soul.  Unfortunately in our fast paced, high tech lives we neglect opportunities to look at each other face to face.  Instead, we glance upon profiles of heads bowed to electronic devices.  A person's profile provides limited insight into her psyche.  When you only have access to her profile, you must depend on other clues to determine what is going on within her.   "Profiles  in Courage" examines these clues.

Often a person's surroundings  provide clues to understanding her state of mind.  At other times, the surroundings will lead you to incorrect  conclusions.   The pieces in this series rely on the background just as heavily as the foreground to tell the story.  Color and shape also play an important role.  Movement is essential.   "Profiles in Courage" exemplifies the human spirit's determination to overcome. Over the next few weeks, this blog will present each piece in the "Profiles in Courage" series.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Bronzeville's Newest Fabric Artist


Mind Control (2011) - Ramona Dallum Lindsey
Only 6 more days until the premier art show for Bronzeville's newest fabric artist.  Chicago's Bronzeville community has a rich history for African-Americans in Chicago.   Bronzeville was the area where thousands of African-Americans settled in the early 1900's after moving from the South in search of better opportunities.   Bronzeville became the seat of African-American culture in Chicago.  The area birthed poets, authors, singers, musicians, and visual artists.  Bronzeville is experiencing a resurgence in African-American culture.   Providence settled Ramona Dallum Lindsey, fabric artist, in historic Bronzeville in 2009 after moving to Chicago from Opelika, Alabama with her husband and children in search of greater opportunities.

Her interest in fabric art was rekindled after meeting one of her quilting mentors, Gwen McGee Boyd, at Bronzeville's historic LakeMeadows Art Fair.  From her condo in her Bronzeville brownstone Ramona experimented with transforming traditional quilting and embroidery techniques into modern art telling the story of her complex community.  She uses fabric to create wall art and fabric sculptures.  Her pieces are rich tapestries of color, dimension and texture.  

Storms (2011) - Ramona Dallum Lindsey
Sunday, September 25, 2011, will mark the introduction of her art to the Bronzeville community through her invitation only fine art show titled Metamorphosis: A Fine Art Show.  Ramona will present nine pieces from her Profiles in Courage SeriesProfiles in Courage is a visual story of peoples' resolve to soar above life's challenges.  She will also present her inaugural sculpture for the Trees of Life Series which uses trees to metaphorically represent life's journey and nature's relationship to the human experience.  If you would like, an invitation to Ramona Dallum Lindsey's Metamorphosis: A Fine Art Show please post a comment requesting an invite. 

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Do You Hear What I Hear? - A Tribute

My education in the School of Business and Industry at Florida A & M University warned against mixing business with personal.  In the corporate world of an employee such a combination could lead to career implosion.  Art is personal.  It is also my business.  I’m ignoring FAMU’s warning.  Instead I’m encouraging an intimate love affair between personal and business.
My latest piece, “Do You Hear What I Hear” (2011), was completed on June 29th – the day of my 15th wedding anniversary.  “Do You Hear…” is my tribute to the man I embraced in marriage.  It is a testament to the man of faith he has become through every challenging obstacle we have faced together.  He is also a science lover.  His tribute must combine faith with science.  “Do You Hear What I Hear” shows science’s ability to explain some things and its limitation to fathom others.   
Science has proven sound travels in waves of varying frequencies.   Humans detect sound waves with their ears.  Receptors in the ear carry the waves to the brain.  The brain interprets the information from the ear and lets  us know what we are hearing.   Scientist have used MRI technology to study the brain’s reaction to different types of sounds.   The technology allows scientists to see which areas of the brain are most excited by the sound stimulus.  I believe emotion is measured through our level of excitement.  If you’re really emotional the MRI will reveal higher levels of brain activity. But an MRI cannot reveal human thought.
If an MRI could read the thoughts of my husband after receiving bad news, it would reveal something peculiar.    After hearing pronouncements of foreclosure, unemployment, and slow economy, his thought revealing MRI would see faith, hope, and opportunity.  How do I know?   Because I’ve stood by him and heard the pronouncements with him.   I’ve watched his actions and heard his words.  When the world - and his wife - marinated on seemingly impossible situations, he hung on to possibilities.  He turned each pronouncement of doom into a new beginning while all the time relying on the power of his great big God.
 My husband has always wanted to be a part of something scientific.  I plan to enter “Do You Hear What I Hear” in SAQA Il/WI’s Stitched Together, Art and Science exhibit to be held in the art gallery at  Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois.  When I told him about the exhibit he exclaimed, “Fermilab has the largest particle accelerator in the midwest!  I’ve always wanted to go there!”  Hopefully the art piece he inspired will one day be mounted on walls dripping with science. 
Martin Cornelius Lindsey thank you for being this Christian family’s man of faith.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Where Are We?


William "CJ" Cowherd Jr - 57th Street Art Fair Vendor, Chicago, IL
Attending art fairs and gallery openings  is my newest past time.  I’m meeting artists, observing new techniques, and experiencing different mediums. But I’m also discovering a recurring trend – the minuscule number of African-American artists at mainstream art fairs.  I find myself asking, where are we?  Why aren’t more of us in juried art fairs such as the 57th Street, Gold Coast, and Old Town Art Fairs - all prominent Chicago art fairs?

Cheryl Toles - 57th Street Art Fair Vendor, Chicago, IL
My experience tells me there are thousands of talented, contemporary African-American and African Diaspora artist.  Even though an abundance of artistic talent exists in Chicago less than 2% of the approximately 200 artists at this year’s  57th Street Art Fair in Chicago’s historic Hyde Park community were African-American.  Why is this happening? I don’t believe the reason is a lack of talent.  America has a well established system of privilege, but I don’t think this is the primary reason either.  I propose the primary reason is a lack of professional preparation.  

Several weeks ago, I presented some of my artwork to a prominent Chicago gallery owner.  After reviewing my work, he acknowledged my creativity and artistic talent then he succinctly stated my art wouldn’t work in his gallery.  In his opinion, my presentation lacked the polish to appeal to fine art collectors.  My pieces weren’t ready to hang in collector’s homes.    I mounted my art on the least expensive pre-stretched canvas available not realizing collectors and galleries have acceptable standards for unframed works.  My presentation didn’t meet those standards.  He likened my artistic presentation to a well designed car with missing wheels – it looks good but it can’t be driven.

Mainstream art fair jurors are concerned with presentation.  They expect the artist’s presentation to mimic a fine gallery transported to a neighborhood street.  The 57th Street Art Fair runs concurrently with and adjacent to the Hyde Park Community Art Fair.  Both shows are juried, but are totally different.  The 57th Street Fair seems to cater to high end fine art collectors while the Community Art Fair draws the casual art appreciator.   Another outstanding difference was large numbers of African-American vendors at the Community Art Fair even though the vendor fees for each fair were identical.   I asked my children if they noticed a difference between the two art fairs.  My middle school son responded, "The 57th Street one is for professionals and the Community is for amateurs."  He explained further by saying that the professionals took time to come up with an interesting display.  
 
Do the jurors of mainstream shows see the same thing?  As African-American artists do we need to move from amateur to professional by investing  in  our  presentation? Are the photos we use to introduce our work to juries professional quality?  Do we need to educate ourselves on the expectations of collectors and galleries while maintaining our artistic creativity?  Are we operating like business owners who understand the expectations of its customers?  Are these the changes African-American artists need to make to increase our access to mainstream art fairs and galleries?  How would the fine art market change if more of us took these steps? What do you think?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Don’t Become an Isolated Griot!


Patricia Coleman Cobb & Ramona
Artists run the risk of isolation.  We can become trapped in our own creative minds and spaces.   Our studios are our sanctuaries, but sometimes they become our prisons.  We refuse to leave our safe creative space to venture into the world.  I heard an artist describe all artists as modern day griots.  Our art tells the story of a people, community, and nation.   But what good is a story if it is not heard?  What good is a griot who only tells stories to herself?
 
Patricia Cobb's fiber & clay dolls
We must open ourselves up to experience the creativity of other artists.  There are always art exhibits, openings and gatherings going on somewhere.  We must take the time to attend these events and talk to each other.  Online groups like Black Art in America  have helped begin this process.  As an art patron, I believed artists were reclusive, secretive, and mysterious.  I thought someone with such creativity couldn’t be easy to understand or befriend.  But then I realized, I was an artist and I’m none of those things.  In fact, I’m an open book with an ever changing story.  If this was my reality, then it must also be the same for other artists.
 
Danny Broadway & Ramona
At every art opening, street fair, or gallery show I’ve attended, I’ve encountered wonderful artists who fed my creativity with their energy.   A community grows as its members interact.  Sharing stories, asking questions, and cooperative dreaming is the fertilizer for its growth.  As a community of artists, we must seek out each other and challenge each other’s growth. We must not allow ourselves to become isolated islands.  Social networking is helping to bring us together but we must strive to expand our relationships into the real world.  

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Life is a Big Bowl of Questions

Dana Todd Pope & Ramona D Lindsey
My eight year old daughter explained that, "Life is a big bowl of questions."  (Of course, this was her response to my asking why she has so many questions for mommy.) But this young philosopher was correct.  Life does revolve around questions and our search for the answers.  Questions were my reason for attending Sisters and Friends Afrocentric Fine Art Show in Bloomington-Normal, Illinoison May 21st-22nd.  As an emerging artist, leaving over a decade of service as  a public school educator, I have many questions about the life and responsibilities of a professional artist.  I've attended many fine art shows as a patron, but never as an artist.  Hence, my first question, "How do artists prepare for a fine art show?"  

Abstracts by Dana Todd Pope
My husband, a social media network guru, introduced me to my newest artist friend and painter, Dana Todd Pope.  Dana was a featured artist at the Sisters and Friends show.  In a quest to find answers to my question, I volunteered to travel with Dana to Bloomington-Normal, Illinois to help her set-up for the show.  She quickly accepted my offer.  I learned the work begins weeks before the show.  First, an artist must handle logistics such as travel arrangements, hotel rooms,  and securing display panels.  Weeks prior to the show she spent an untold number of hours creating new works insuring she had a consistent body of work.


More work by Dana Todd Pope
After arriving at the show, Dana became a curator.  She considered the flow of the room, her art's story, and lighting to decide the placement of her work.  Then she became a foreman directing the actions of her laborers to build panels, display walls, and remount art work disassembled for travel.  Finally, she donned her fancy dress, stilettos, and glamour girl make-up to become a premier promoter of her work.  She greeted art patrons, told her story, and closed business deals.
Watching and supporting Dana was the best answer to my simple question.   I learned things from one day of volunteer work that I could have never gotten from a book.  My mother always said, "Experience is the best teacher and there are no dumb questions."   I’m glad I heeded my mom's advice.   My art career will be so much better because I took the time to ask questions and seek answers.  What questions are you asking?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sisters and Friends with a Passion for Art

What do you do when you are a professional, culturally inspired African-American woman in a community nearly void of cultural activities relevant to your ethnic experience? You simply call your sister friends.  This was the case in 1994 when 4 such women founded SisterFriends to introduce Bloomington-Normal, Illinois to culture relevant to the African Diaspora.  These 4 forward thinking women began hosting artist shows in their homes as a way to educate their community about artists of the African Diaspora and the impact of their art on the world.   

By 1999, SisterFriends evolved into a non-profit organization known as Sisters and Friends.  Their living room art shows transformed into an annual event  - The Afrocentric Fine Art Show - held at venues containing thousands of square feet to exhibit art works created by regional, national, and international artists. Sisters and Friends have partnered with numerous civic-minded and corporate entities to fulfill their mission which includes increasing awareness of African-American & African Diaspora art, enhance artist’s contributions to the community, advocate for youth expose to art, preserve the legacy of artists, and provide scholarships for African-American art students.

Bloomington-Normal, Illinois is home to the corporate headquarters of State Farm.  It is no surprise that this highly respected organization is a major supporter of Sisters and Friends’ Afrocentric Fine Art Show.  The weekend of May 21st and 22nd, 2011, marked the sixteenth year for the show.  It was formerly billed as Art Couture.  Art Couture featured such artists as Patricia Coleman-Cobb, Danny Broadway, Paul Branton, Joyce Lomax, and Dana Todd Pope. Gallery Guichard, a prominent Chicago gallery, also presented works from several of its highly talented artists. In the spirit of their mission, Sisters & Friends hosted each artist with the royal treatment, which included an invitation only dinner on the first night of the show.

Even though their numbers are small, their influence is far reaching.  Visitors to the sixteenth annual show came from locations throughout the Midwest, including St. Louis and Chicago.  These fearless, passionate, and devoted women are cultural leaders in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois. By filling a void, they have transcended racial and ethnic barriers to unite a community around the beauty of art.  On behalf of artists everywhere, I salute your efforts.

Sisters and Friends Officers                                                      
Glenda Masingale Manson, President
Johnene Adams, Fund Development
Wilma Bates, Marketing Director/Scholarships
Carol Milling Cruz, Creative Director/Webmaster
Angela Davenport, Artist Events
Beverly Reid, Secretary/Treasurer
Stephanie Woodard, Volunteers