June 27, 2015
(This is part of a 365 project during my 70th years where I write and illustrate a blog on each day’s gift.)
|Art installation by African-American artist Paul Rucker forces us to"lean into" an uncomfortable conversation. He is a resident artist at Baltimore's Creative Alliance and recipient of the 2015 Baker Artist Award.|
I am a member of the Creative Alliance and always put in one of my pieces for the annual Big Show. Tonight we went to the exhibit opening and the dance party that followed, but before the dancing started, we heard a cello solo by Paul Rucker that was unlike any cello music I have ever heard.
Rucker is an African American multi-disciplinary resident artist at the Creative Alliance. When we met him in his studio a little later, I was startled and uncomfortable because I was confronted with an array of KKK hooded garments on mannequins, which had been part of his Rewind gallery exhibit earlier this year. One grouping had robes of red, white and blue and small child figures wearing white robes. I didn’t have to go far until I saw a throw rug with a lynching image on it. Rucker also took us to his loft where dozens of violin cases wrapped in the American flag were lying on the floor simulating caskets of enslaved children. This artist believes that we have to rewind and face the reality of social problems of this century in order to have an open dialogue. That means “leaning into the sharp edges.”
I started following these stories of abuse by police, and their outcomes. And I started drawing parallels with lynchings. The same with the prison system—I started drawing a parallel between the prison system and slavery. There are all these parallels of old systems with new systems. That's what Rewind is about, connecting the past and the present, and asking how we got here.”
He says the problem is not about race but about power. I thought about Susan Brownmiller’s book Against Our Will where she paralleled this concept in saying that rape is not about sex but about power.
I believe that it is not politicians who will solve our social problems but artists like Paul Rucker who help us make connections so we can understand and begin a dialog that will help us move forward. We have to step into our discomfort before change can evolve.
My gift today is new understanding of a needed conversation.
For more in-depth information on Paul Rucker, please check out these links: