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Robert Freeman

Visual artist Robert Freeman was born on May 8, 1946 in New York City to Mary and Robert Freeman, Jr. He graduated from Calvin Coolidge High School in 1965 and enrolled at Howard University, where he studied art with Lois Mailou Jones. Freeman transferred to Boston University in 1967 where he earned his B.F.A. degree in 1971 and his M.F.A. degree in 1981.

Freeman began his career in 1971 as an art teacher at Brook School in Weston, Massachusetts. From 1973 to 1981, Freeman worked as the art director of Weston Public Schools. In 1981, he became the artist-in-residence and painting instructor at Noble and Greenough School in Dedham, Massachusetts. Freeman subsequently worked as a painting and drawing lecturer at Harvard University from 1986 to 1992. In 2007, he retired from Noble and Greenough School. Known for his trademarks, the use of color, gesture and nearly abstract figures, Freeman’s paintings depicted African American figures, and was heavily inspired by his childhood experiences in Ghana and Washington, D.C. In 2008, Freeman exhibited his Golden Light Paintings series at the Zenith Gallery in Washington, D.C. That same year, Freeman’s paintings were included in the Five American Voices exhibit among the works of Romare Bearden, Benny Andrews, Alma Woodsey Thomas, and Richard Yarde at the Meridian International Center in Washington, D.C. His series New Works, was showcased at Adelson Galleries in Boston, Massachusetts in 2016. In 2018, Freeman collaborated with photographer Max Stern to paint the Mardi Gras Indians series, which celebrated the 300th anniversary of the New Orleans Mardi Gras parades.

His artwork has been exhibited at Clark Gallery in Lincoln, Massachusetts, June Kelly Gallery in New York City, Lowe Art Museum at the University of Miami, and the Norman Parish Gallery in Washington, D.C. Freeman's paintings are also included in the public collections of Brown University, Boston College, Boston Public Library, the National Center of African American Artists, DeCordova Museum, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts.

Freeman and his wife, Bettye, have three children.

Robert Freeman was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 13, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.220

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/13/2018

Last Name

Freeman

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Robert

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

FRE10

Favorite Season

Fall

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Someplace New

Favorite Quote

N/A

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

5/8/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Boston

Favorite Food

Shrimp

Short Description

Visual artist Robert Freeman (1946- ) was a painting and drawing lecturer at Harvard University from 1986 to 1992, and his works are included in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the National Center for African American Artists, Boston Public Library, Brown University, and DeCordova Museum.

Favorite Color

Sienna

Reginald L. Jackson

Visual artist and professor Reginald L. Jackson was born on January 10, 1945 in Springfield, Massachusetts. He graduated from Springfield Technical High School in 1961 and received his A.A. degree in graphic arts, printing, and photography from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1965. He studied art for two years at Paier College of Art in Hamden, Connecticut before enrolling at Yale University, where he received his B.F.A. and M.F.A. degrees in graphic design, film, and photography in 1970. He obtained his M.S.W. degree in policy and planning from SUNY Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, New York in 1976, and his Ph.D. degree in communications and visual anthropology from the Union Institute in 1979. He completed post-graduate studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the department of urban studies and planning in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Jackson was a founding member of the Black Workshop in 1968, a group of African American graduate students studying architecture, city planning, and graphic design at Yale University. He later joined the faculty at Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts in 1974. Jackson’s photographic work was presented in the African Extensions: A Photographic Search for African Survivals in the Americas exhibition at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art in Brunswick, Maine in 1981. In 1986, Jackson established Olaleye Communications, Inc. to document, create, and distribute educational, visual, and cultural information pertaining to African retentions in the Americas. His work was featured in Black Boston: documentary photography and the African-American experience. Jackson also served as the chair of visual communications, dean of international relations, and academic vice president at the African University College of Communications in Accra, Ghana from 2008 to 2012. Jackson’s work and papers are held at The Yale University Art Gallery, The Boston Athenaeum, the Library of Congress, MIT Museum, Studio Museum in Harlem, the Bowdoin Museum of Art, the RISD Museum of Art, Simmons University, and Amherst Colleges.

Jackson’s board affiliations and memberships include: the Boston Pan-African Forum, the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health, artist emeritus at Northeastern University's African American Master Artists in Residence Program, emeritus professor of communications at Simmons University, Society of Senior Ford Fellows and fellowships from the Ford Foundation and the Smithsonian Institution.

He has received numerous academic awards including a Fulbright Fellowship, Ford Foundation grants, and fellowships from the Smithsonian Institute, University of Massachusetts, Boston and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Jackson was chosen as a Simmons College Man of the Year in 2007.

Reginald L. Jackson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 15, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.208

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/15/2018

Last Name

Jackson

Maker Category
Organizations
First Name

Reginald

Birth City, State, Country

Springfield

HM ID

JAC47

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Massachusetts

Favorite Vacation Destination

Any Place Warm

Favorite Quote

Lets keep it rolling

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

1/10/1945

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Boston

Favorite Food

Avocado

Short Description

Visual artist and professor Reginald L. Jackson (1945 - ) was the founder of Olaleye Communications, Inc. and served as dean of international relations and vice president at the African University College of Communications in Accra, Ghana from 2008 to 2012.

Favorite Color

Red and Green

Henri Linton

Artist and curator Henri Linton was born on September 23, 1944 in Lewiston, Alabama to Christine McMullen Linton and Readus Linton. Linton’s family moved to Tuscaloosa, Alabama in 1953, where he graduated from Druid High School in 1962. He received a four-year scholarship to attend Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, Ohio, where he received his diploma in fine arts in 1966. Linton went on to earn his B.F.A. degree in painting from Boston University in 1968, and his M.F.A. degree in painting from the University of Cincinnati in 1974.

Linton worked as an art instructor at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff from 1969 to 1974. In 1975, he was promoted to assistant professor of art; and then in 1980, he became an associate professor and chaired the university’s art department. In 1987, Linton became a tenured professor. From 1996 to 2000, Linton held solo exhibitions at the Arkansas Arts Center. In 2004, he became the curator and director of the newly founded University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Museum and Cultural Center. He curated a number of exhibits, including Daisy Bates: In Her Own Words, Clark Terry: His Life and Time, and Keeper of the Spirit History Project. He also curated exhibits for the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. Linton retired from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff in 2014.

In 1966 and 1968, Linton won the top award for best figure portrait at the Atlanta University National Negro Art Show. In 1971, Linton received the best show award in the Arkansas Artist Competition, and was awarded the Keeper of the Spirit Award from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff in 1998. Linton was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2001, and the UAPB/AM&N Alumni Hall of Fame in 2015. Linton served on the board of trustees of the Southeast Arkansas Arts & Science Center from 1990 to 1995, as founder and chairman of the Chancellor’s Benefits for the Arts from 1987 to 2014, and on the Arkansas History Commission from 2002 to 2007. Linton’s artwork is included in the collections of The Arkansas Arts Center, The Rockefeller Foundation, and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Linton and his wife, Dr. Hazel McKinney Linton, have one son, Henri Linton, Jr.

Henri Linton was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 16, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.049

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/16/2018

Last Name

Linton

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Druid High School

University of Alabama

32nd Avenue Elementary School

Columbus College of Art and Design

Boston University

University of Cincinnati

First Name

Henri

Birth City, State, Country

Lewiston

HM ID

LIN02

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

New York

Favorite Quote

If I Can Help Somebody As I Pass This Way, Then My Life Have Not Been In Vain.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Arkansas

Birth Date

9/23/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Pine Bluff

Favorite Food

Fish

Short Description

Artist and curator Henri Linton (1944 - ) chaired the art department at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff for over thirty years, and worked as the curator of the University Museum and Cultural Center.

Employment

University of Arkansas - Pine Bluff Museum and Cultural Center

University of Arkansas - Pine Bluff

University of Cincinnati

AM&N College

Favorite Color

Blue

Betye Saar

Visual artist Betye Saar was born on July 20, 1926 in Los Angeles, California to Jefferson Maze Brown and Beatrice Lillian Parson. After the passing of her father in 1931, Saar and her family moved to Pasadena, California to live with her great-aunt, Hattie Parson Keys. Saar earned her B.A. degree in design, with a minor in sociology, from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1949. She later took graduate level classes in design at multiple institutions in California, but changed her artistic focus after taking a printmaking class.

After graduating from the University of California, Saar briefly worked as a social worker until she met jewelry artist Curtis Tann. She began making assemblages in 1967. After being inspired by the Watts Riots, an exhibit by Joseph Cornell, and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Saar began making politically themed artwork. Her first and most well-known piece, was The Liberation of Aunt Jemima. Throughout her artistic career, Saar’s artwork has been displayed at prominent art museums. In 1975, she held her first solo show at the Whitney Museum of Art in New York and was the first African American woman to have her art on display there. The following year, Saar participated in her first commercial gallery show at the Monique Knowlton Gallery in New York.

Saar has won many awards for her artwork throughout her career. She received two National Endowment for the Arts Awards, in 1974 and 1984. Saar also received the J. Paul Getty Fund for the Visual Arts Fellowship, the Artist Award from the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1990, as well as the Distinguished Artist Award from Fresno Art Museum in 1993, and the Flintridge Foundation Visual Artists Award. In 1994, Saar represented the U.S. at the 22nd Biennial of Sao Paulo in Brazil. In 2005, the University of Michigan Museum of Art organized the traveling exhibition Betye Saar: Extending the Frozen Moment which examined her incorporation of photographic fragments in her work. In 2008, she was recognized for her career in art and community activism and was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in Fine Arts from the Congressional Black Caucus.

Saar has three daughters: Lezley, Alison, and Tracey.

Betye Saar was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 19, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.116

Sex

Female

Interview Date

07/20/2017

Last Name

Saar

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Betye

Birth City, State, Country

Los Angeles

HM ID

SAA01

Favorite Season

Sunshine, Rain, Wind

State

California

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bali

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

7/30/1926

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Thai, Chinese, Mexican

Short Description

Visual artist Betye Saar (1926 - ) was the first African American woman to have an exhibition at the Whitney Museum of Art in New York.

Favorite Color

Grayish Blue

Carrie Mae Weems

Photographer and artist Carrie Mae Weems was born on April 20, 1953 in Portland, Oregon to Myrlie and Carrie Weems. Weems graduated from the California Institute of the Arts, Valencia with her B.F.A. degree in 1981, and received her M.F.A. degree in photography from the University of California, San Diego in 1984. From 1984 to 1987, she participated in the graduate program in folklore at the University of California, Berkeley.

In 1984, Weems completed her first collection of photographs, text, and spoken word entitled, Family Pictures and Stories. Her next photographic series, Ain't Jokin', was completed in 1988. She went on to produce American Icons in 1989, and Colored People and the Kitchen Table Series in 1990. Weems then created the Sea Islands Series (1991-92), Slave Coast and Africa Series (1993), From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried (1995-96), Who What When Where (1998), Ritual & Revolution (1998), Jefferson Suite (1999), Hampton Project (2000), May Days Long Forgotten and Dreaming in Cuba (2002), The Louisiana Project (2003), Roaming (2006), and the Museum Series, which she began in 2006. She also produced the video projects Coming Up for Air (2004), Italian Dreams (2006), Constructing History: A Requiem to Mark the Moment (2008), and Afro-Chic (2009), among others.

Weems is represented by the Jack Shainman Gallery in New York City, and has exhibited her art at the Rhona Hoffman Gallery in Chicago, Illinois, and Gallery Paule Anglim in San Francisco, California. She has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions at major national and international museums, including the Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles), Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Corcoran Gallery of Art, The Frist Center for the Visual Arts, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Tate Liverpool in England, and the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum in Spain. She is represented in public and private collections around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art (New York), The Museum of Fine Arts (Houston), The Art Institute of Chicago, and the Portland Art Museum. In addition, Weems has taught as an assistant professor or visiting professor at Hampshire College, Hunter College, California College of Arts and Crafts, Williams College, Harvard University, Syracuse University, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Weems has received numerous awards, grants and fellowships including the Joseph H. Hazen Rome Prize Fellowship; a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship; a Smithsonian Fellowship; the Alpert Award for Visual Arts; the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award; and the Anonymous Was a Woman Foundation Award. In 2012, she was presented with one of the first U.S. Department of State’s Medals of Arts in recognition for her commitment to the State Department’s Art in Embassies program. In 2013, Weems received the MacArthur Foundation’s “Genius” Grant, the Gordon Parks Foundation Award and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Carrie Mae Weems was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 10, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.175

Sex

Female

Interview Date

9/10/2014

Last Name

Weems

Maker Category
Middle Name

Mae

Organizations
Schools

California Institute of the Arts

University of California, San Diego

University of California, Berkeley

Harriet Tubman Leadership Academy for Young Women

Sabin K-8 School

Andrew Jackson High School

Boise-Eliot/Humboldt PK-8 School

City College of San Francisco

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Carrie

Birth City, State, Country

Portland

HM ID

WEE01

Favorite Season

All Seasons

State

Oregon

Favorite Vacation Destination

The World

Favorite Quote

You Prepare To Live, Every Day

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

4/20/1953

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Popcorn

Short Description

Photographer and visual artist Carrie Mae Weems (1953 - ) was an award-winning folkloric artist represented in public and private collections around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and The Art Institute of Chicago.

Employment

Hampshire College

Hunter College

California College of Arts and Crafts

Williams College

Harvard University

Syracuse University

University of Pennsylvania

Kelly Services, Inc.

Brockman Gallery

Favorite Color

Chartreuse, Yellow, Burnt Orange, Deep Red

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Carrie Mae Weems' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Carrie Mae Weems lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Carrie Mae Weems describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Carrie Mae Weems describes her parents' work as sharecroppers

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Carrie Mae Weems remembers the death of her father

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Carrie Mae Weems talks about her family's migration to Portland, Oregon

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Carrie Mae Weems describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Carrie Mae Weems describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Carrie Mae Weems describes the racial demographics of her neighborhood in Portland, Oregon

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Carrie Mae Weems remembers the events of the 1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Carrie Mae Weems recalls her early work ethic, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Carrie Mae Weems recalls her early work ethic, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Carrie Mae Weems recalls her early education

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Carrie Mae Weems describes the awakening of her individual consciousness

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Carrie Mae Weems talks about her home life

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Carrie Mae Weems remembers her early aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Carrie Mae Weems recalls her introduction to theater

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Carrie Mae Weems reflects upon her friendship with Catherine Jelski

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Carrie Mae Weems recalls her decision to attend the California Institute of the Arts

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Carrie Mae Weems remembers the birth of her daughter

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Carrie Mae Weems remembers moving to San Francisco, California

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Carrie Mae Weems recalls working for the Kelly Services, Inc.

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Carrie Mae Weems talks about the development of her political consciousness

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Carrie Mae Weems recalls her introduction to photography

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Carrie Mae Weems talks about her photography training

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Carrie Mae Weems shares her philosophy of travel

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Carrie Mae Weems talks about the Studio Museum in Harlem in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Carrie Mae Weems talks about her photography mentors

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Carrie Mae Weems recalls working for Anthony Barboza and Louis Draper

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Carrie Mae Weems recalls lessons from Anthony Barboza and Louis Draper

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Carrie Mae Weems describes the Kamoinge Workshop

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Carrie Mae Weems recalls organizing the 'Women in Photography' exhibition

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Carrie Mae Weems recalls her role as an art curator

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Carrie Mae Weems talks about her interest in art curating

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Carrie Mae Weems remembers photographing farmworkers in Central California

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Carrie Mae Weems talks about P.H. Polk, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Carrie Mae Weems talks about P.H. Polk, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Carrie Mae Weems recalls her documentary film about black photography

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Carrie Mae Weems describes the influence of Zora Neale Hurston on her work

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Carrie Mae Weems recalls enrolling in the folklore program at the University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Carrie Mae Weems describes her artistic process

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Carrie Mae Weems talks about 'The Kitchen Table Series, 1990'

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Carrie Mae Weems describes the process of creating 'The Kitchen Table Series, 1990'

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Carrie Mae Weems describes the intentions behind 'The Kitchen Table Series, 1990,' pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Carrie Mae Weems describes the intentions behind 'The Kitchen Table Series, 1990,' pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Carrie Mae Weems talks about the exclusion of African Americans from critical art discourse

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Carrie Mae Weems talks about being the subject of her own photographs

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Carrie Mae Weems talks about her decision to focus on self-portraiture

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Carrie Mae Weems describes her creative process

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Carrie Mae Weems talks about representing the black experience

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Carrie Mae Weems describes the use of artifacts in her work

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

3$4

DATitle
Carrie Mae Weems recalls working for Anthony Barboza and Louis Draper
Carrie Mae Weems describes the influence of Zora Neale Hurston on her work
Transcript
You're studying under great photographers [at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, New York], great black photographers, how--how did that inform the artist who you were becoming?$$Well, DeCarava [Roy DeCarava] was probably the most important. I thought that it was Anthony Barboza, because DeCarava, DeCarava's style is very, very subtle. And he's a, you know, he just a master, a master printer, and I was a little intimidated by him also. I was afraid of him, and but one night, not one night--you know, again I was a fairly intense person. I was taking classes I was trying to make some decisions about how I was going to move forward. And I decided that there were several photographers in New York [New York] that I was really interested in working with. One was the Japanese photographer Hiro [Yasuhiro Wakabayashi]. The other one was Lou Draper [Louis Draper], and the third was Anthony Barboza. So I stayed up, I had their prints on my wall in my ap- my, my 84th Street (speaks French) appartement. I had their prints on my wall you know clippings from magazines and publications. And I stayed up for like forty-eight hours like looking and writing and thinking 'cause that's what happens when you're hungry, you know. You can, you know, you can live on adrenaline for a while and I decided that I was going to work with one of these men. And that I was going to start calling on Monday morning at eight o'clock. So I'd stayed up, I'd made this decision I had their names written down, I had their telephone numbers written down, I had their addresses written down. Monday morning comes along I pick up the phone, and I start calling these numbers, one after the other, one after the other, all morning until somebody picked up the phone. So finally somebody picks up, it's his studio, and I said, "Hello is Lou Draper there?" "No, Lou's out in the, in the, in the dark room." "Okay, can you ask him, when, when can--," "Well, you can call back in five minutes?" Call the other number (makes sound), "Is Anthony Barboza there?" "Anthony's out in the studio right now, but you know, you can call back in ten minutes." "Oh, okay." Picked up the phone (makes sound), "Mr. Hiro is not here right now, you must call back next week." (Laughter) This, I mean just this sort of crazy thing. And finally I realize that two of the numbers were virtually the same except for one digit. And that Anthony Barboza and Lou Draper were actually working together. And that, when I was calling, one would be in the studio and the other would be in the dark room. Or one would be in the--right the--the, you know. They were sort of doing this thing and finally Anthony got on the phone. Tony Barboza got on the phone, and I said, "Hello, this is [HistoryMaker] Carrie Mae Weems calling. You have absolutely no idea who I am, but I know who you are and I've decided that I'm coming to work for you." And he said, "Who is this? Shirley? Is this Shirley?" And I said, "No, this is Carrie Mae Weems, and I have been up for a long time, and I've been looking at your photographs for a long time. And I just can't think of a better person to work with, so I'd like to come by and talk with you to find out when I could start." And he said, "Well can you come by on Wednesday?" And that's how I started working with Anthony Barboza. And then I worked with him for a long time and Lou was there, so I was suddenly working with two of my favorite photographers in one fell swoop. And it was really, really wonderful and then you know, that he didn't hang up on me was like a miracle. But I was so impassioned that I was just--it's like I have to do this. You know, and you know, like there's no other way of doing it, than other--you know than, than being direct. I've gotta do this, and I gotta work with you, I'm looking at these photograph's that you can teach me what I need to know. And so, I work with him, and I would then work with him on special projects because then I'm flipping back and forth. I know California, I know New York, I know how to drive, I--you know, I'm like you know. So you know, so he--if he needed to go to San Francisco [California] he would call me up, and I would pick him up and I would take care of everything. If he needed to go to L.A. [Los Angeles, California], I would pick him up I would drive I would take care of everything. So I was really a good little assistant you know, and I'd stay out of your way. So it was pretty, pretty wonderful and they were great teachers, they were great friends they were, you know, very kind to me they were very kind to me. And I learned a great deal from them.$So your first collection of photographs, photographs, text and spoken word. Your 'Family Pictures and Stories' ['Family Pictures and Stories, 1981-1982,' Carrie Mae Weems], that you created I guess was it the following year, 1983?$$Well I started the photographs earlier, I started making photographs of my family earlier. And, it was really through my encounter with Zora Neale Hurston that I really began to understand the power of the personal narrative. You know the--even though my father [Myrlie Weems] had been a storyteller I didn't really think of him as a storyteller, he just told good stories, right. I began to understand that he was really a storyteller that he was really the bearer of narrative. Not all of us are that; not all of us are that, right. And so Zora sort of introduced me to a way of thinking about possibilities of the ways of which I could work with photography. And use photography and language, and narrative together even though she wasn't using photographs. It was still kind of what she represented that sort of fostered a whole new set of ideas. I am so grateful, I'm so grateful that she, she lived. I'm so grateful that she did what she did, that she el- she freed me. She freed me; she gave me the right and the, and the authority to do the work that I actually went on to do with 'Family Pictures and Stories.' It was a very important work for me.$$So when you say that Zora freed you, how, how did this occur, what, what happen?$$By, by example. You know that there was--she charted the path. So she'd allowed--she gave me space. You know, I mean that's the thing I think is so wonderful about what people do. Really when you are the--what, what you being the trailblazer means that you have really opened the path for others to follow. So she, she was that, she was that for me and for a whole hoard of people that came along with me. That suddenly there was an articulated voice positioned in a certain kind of cadence that described a certain kind of life that was not urban. That was not urban right that was very important right. I supposed that in some ways Hughes, Langston Hughes is the same way right, this way of describing that was not urban. You know, that was, was always sort of like you know, like waltzing with the blues, so to speak, right. And I think that there's something really valuable, it was certainly valuable for me and--$$So, so at--where were you, were you in school [at the University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California] when you learned about Zora Neale Hurston (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Yeah in school, I was in school. I was in, you know, I was in that place where I didn't know what my voice was. You know, that I was--I knew lots of people, I looked at lots of things. I was making photographs, and I'm actually a very good--can be, sometimes a good photographer. So you know, so I was doing what I do but I was still not--I hadn't yet found my own articulation it just was not, it was not clear what that was. What my direction needed to be how it needed to be. And so I went to San Francisco [California] to visit a friend for the weekend because I was so despondent, I was so depressed. I was struggling, that sort of struggle to find my way through. And on the way out the door that Monday morning, I looked down, and there was this, this book 'Their Eyes Are Watching God' [sic. 'Their Eyes Were Watching God,' Zora Neale Hurston]. And I remember somebody told me that I reminded them of Zora Neale Hurston, but I didn't know who Zora Neale Hurston was. So it was like, oh that's that woman somebody said that I reminded them of, and so I asked my friend if I could take the book. Her son had just finished reading it for class. I got on the bus, I decide I was going to take the long way back to San Diego [California] because I didn't wanna get there too fast. And I read 'Their Eyes Are Watching God' all the way from San Francisco to San Diego. And I got off the bus reading the book, pulling my suitcase behind me. And I got into a taxi reading the book. And then I got to my apartment, and I was reading the book and I unlock my door and I was reading the book. And I walk into my bedroom, and I was reading the book and I sat in my bed and I finished it. I said, "Oh, oh, okay, okay I got it, I got it, thank you." It was just such a powerful example; I was so grateful. Got up the next day went to the library, checked out everything they had on Zora Neale Hurston, ordered everything else they didn't have. Bought everything else that I possibly could and finished up my degree and then decided I was going to be a folklorist. And went off to UC Berkeley [University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California] to study, to study there, you know, it was like you know the, the lights, the lights were just sort of turned on bright. How amazing is that, you know you just never know who you're going to touch by doing what you do. Phenomenal.

Theaster Gates

Visual artist and urban planner Theaster Gates was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1973. He was raised in Chicago’s East Garfield Park, where he sang in his church choir and helped with his father's roofing business. Gates graduated from Lane Technical College Preparatory High School and went on to receive his B.S. degree in urban planning from Iowa State University in 1996. He later obtained his M.A. degree in fine arts and religious studies from the University of Cape Town in 1998 and his M.S. degree in urban planning, ceramics and religious studies from Iowa State University in 2006.

In 2000, Gates was hired as an arts planner for the Chicago Transit Authority. He then went on to work at the Little Black Pearl Art and Design Center as director of education and outreach. Beginning in 2006, Gates purchased a small number of abandoned homes on Chicago’s South Side in the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood. He restored the structures using repurposed materials and turned them into alternative cultural spaces, which he collectively called Dorchester Projects. Gates then founded the non-profit Rebuild Foundation to program the spaces.

In 2007, Gates was hired as a coordinator of arts programming for the University of Chicago’s Humanities Division. In 2009, he became an artist in residence and lecturer in the Department of Visual Arts and was appointed as the director of arts program development for the University of Chicago; in 2011, he was named the director of the Arts and Public Life initiative. In 2014, Gates was appointed as a professor in the Department of Visual Arts.

As an artist, Gates is represented by White Cube of London, England. Gates has exhibited his artwork and performed at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Whitechapel Gallery, London; Punta della Dogana, Venice; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Milwaukee Art Museum; the Santa Barbara Museum of Art; and Documenta 13, Kassel, Germany; among others.

Gates has received awards and grants from the Knight Foundation, Anderson Ranch, Creative Time, the Wall Street Journal, the Vera List Center for Art and Politics, Creative Capital, the Joyce Foundation, the Graham Foundation, the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, and Artadia. In 2010, Gates served as a Loeb fellow at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design; in 2012, he became a fellow of United States Artists. In 2013, ArtReview ranked Gates fortieth on its list of the hundred most powerful people in the art world.

Theaster Gates was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 4, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.176

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/4/2014

Last Name

Gates

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Lane Technical College Prep High School

Iowa State University

University of Cape Town

First Name

Theaster

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

GAT04

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Kyoto, Japan

Favorite Quote

Right On

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

8/28/1973

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Sushi

Short Description

Visual artist and urban planner Theaster Gates (1973 - ) was the director of Arts and Public Life at the University of Chicago and founded the Dorchester Projects and The Rebuild Foundation. He has exhibited his artwork and performed at numerous cultural institutions.

Employment

Chicago Transit Authority

Little Black Pearl Art and Design Center

Rebuild Foundation

University of Chicago

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
0,0:202,3:2862,33:4686,78:15674,163:20240,177:20745,183:21351,190:21957,197:22866,204:24580,212:25196,222:26967,254:27737,270:28661,285:30910,293:31848,314:32250,321:35720,376:36165,382:38482,389:38818,394:43186,481:45370,517:45790,523:46378,532:69618,736:115390,909:115835,915:116369,922:116992,935:117437,941:119754,954:120798,973:123110,992:124276,1005:129190,1030:131940,1060:135680,1107:136120,1112:136890,1120:148275,1172:170424,1381:171908,1399:181480,1477:181985,1483:182591,1490:183500,1500:184611,1513:185318,1521:187177,1556:192556,1578:192820,1583:194620,1599:194900,1604:202340,1716:202700,1721:207488,1757:209480,1789:209812,1794:210725,1807:212136,1827:216990,1882:228928,2001:233726,2016:234166,2022:234782,2035:235134,2040:235662,2048:237510,2068:238302,2079:238654,2084:239974,2103:240326,2108:240766,2114:241294,2122:253799,2281:257097,2322:257970,2332:262390,2346:263280,2359:264259,2372:265060,2383:265950,2395:268353,2436:269243,2447:270400,2465:275800,2503:276350,2509:277010,2516:277560,2522:280758,2534:281595,2545:283269,2569:284106,2580:286617,2632:287082,2638:287733,2647:288105,2652:288477,2657:292726,2678:293054,2683:295596,2724:296252,2737:296580,2745:299520,2773$0,0:840,18:4284,106:4788,113:5124,118:8484,154:15540,230:16044,237:16548,244:17136,253:18144,269:18480,274:22512,351:24108,381:24612,388:25116,395:33620,424:34710,437:39830,460:40170,466:40578,474:42278,508:42822,517:43842,527:44182,533:45066,553:47720,566:48392,575:54966,667:63510,722:63866,727:65379,745:66981,765:69635,779:75196,812:78562,842:79452,857:86930,865:89522,892:94362,924:94866,933:95307,942:97323,978:107047,1078:107355,1083:109126,1125:117470,1153:118742,1171:119378,1178:126311,1236:127466,1254:128082,1264:131980,1281:132708,1290:137647,1332:138263,1341:138725,1349:140034,1377:140804,1388:148026,1433:149286,1456:150210,1469:160610,1531:161840,1553:163080,1562:163670,1574:164319,1590:164555,1595:170485,1660:171843,1677:172425,1684:173104,1693:178180,1724:180220,1742:182230,1759:182530,1766:186225,1821:187182,1837:190662,1899:192489,1925:193011,1933:194630,1941:195302,1950:196454,1964:197222,1973:197702,1979:201542,2017:202118,2024:202790,2032:203558,2042:204326,2053:207490,2081:208302,2104:208534,2109:208824,2115:209636,2131:210042,2140:211550,2171:216958,2214:219571,2229:223840,2278:224500,2285:226260,2308:227360,2320:228350,2330:229150,2335:229594,2342:232450,2371:235100,2406:235842,2414:237114,2441:244458,2479:244722,2484:245448,2496:248418,2554:249144,2570:249408,2575:249936,2585:250860,2601:251256,2610:251652,2617:253038,2645:253434,2652:253896,2661:254886,2678:258298,2698:258522,2703:258746,2708:259362,2720:263162,2738:268800,2778:270075,2817:280720,2917:284320,2961:284770,2967:289320,3027:289860,3039:300264,3133:300975,3149:303194,3171:307844,3236:308411,3252:313060,3297:314704,3311:319055,3335:322245,3350:324258,3405:326654,3430:327026,3435:328235,3453:328700,3459:330544,3466:337356,3586:348370,3738
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Theaster Gates' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Theaster Gates lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Theaster Gates describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Theaster Gates describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Theaster Gates remembers working on his maternal family's farm

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Theaster Gates describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Theaster Gates lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Theaster Gates remembers his household

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Theaster Gates describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Theaster Gates remembers his church's musical consecration ceremony

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Theaster Gates remembers the role of religion in his family

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Theaster Gates talks about his background in gospel music

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Theaster Gates remembers his influences at Sunday school

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Theaster Gates remembers his decision to attend a majority-white magnet school

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Theaster Gates describes his experiences at Frank W. Reilly Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Theaster Gates talks about the magnet schools in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Theaster Gates remembers Lane Technical College Preparatory High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Theaster Gates remembers his introduction to the house music scene

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Theaster Gates talks about gender roles in the black church

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Theaster Gates remembers his sense of style

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

1$1

DATitle
Theaster Gates remembers his church’s musical consecration ceremony
Theaster Gates talks about gender roles in the black church
Transcript
So when you, take us back to the church. Do you remember some of the wailing that, can you sort of recreate those sounds right now for us?$$Yeah, so what was the first in the, after Sunday school before church, there was consecration. Consecration was when all of the members of the church, more the adults, but almost everyone would come to the back of the church and they would sing. They were Dr. Watts hymns [Isaac Watts], and it was like that moment felt like some kind of secret society, some kind of sacred order that was really about remembering. And it was--usually oh maybe Sister Dyson [ph.], the church matriarch who would grumble (singing), "Oh, I love Lord, He heard my cry" ['I Love the Lord, He Heard My Cry']. And then (singing), "I, I, I, I love the Lord. He heard my cry." And it was like so low, it was like so--(singing), "Pity my every groan." And like I remember just as a very young person just kind of being caught up in this like from one voice to this like orchestra of harmonies and wails, and then as the, as the Dr. Watts would go on, it would turn to a hum (hums) and then someone would wail out (singing), "At the name of Jesus, we have victory" ['In the Name of Jesus']. And then folk would go for it again (singing), "At the name of Jesus, oh, we have victory." And I was always kind of curious about like who, who would, who would wail first or like was there a permission that needed to be granted or whatever. And I can remember being around twelve or thirteen and feeling like I needed to lead a call that, that we had gotten to this point and I had this feeling in my stomach and it was like just sing it, and I didn't do it. And then the next Sunday came and I, I just wanted to sing that song. And then like a few Sundays later, I, it just happened and then I, I opened my mouth. You know, I said you know, I, I don't remember which phrase it was, maybe it was (singing), "I was glad this morning to see the rising sun, sun." And I can remember like, like all these people, like just kind of like with wails and smiles and like more loud then I'd ever heard kind of responding to me saying this and I was glad this morning. And that kind of affirmation, you know, different from a, "You did a good job today kid," or it was something about this kind of deep vocal, spiritual affirmation. That was the beginning of forging my interest in music and, and my in kind of a long term engagement with the power of sound, the power of gospel music, the power within one's body to, to change the nature of the day or to change the hearts of man to, you know, it was like there was a power that was much more complicated than the song itself or, or, or the influence that one person could have on another by saying something.$I want to explore this the, the juxtaposition of, of the church life and can we, 'cause we've, we've, the church life that is gay, queer, you call queer, that life and what's happening there and with the music because who are the people coming into the gospel scene at this point? You, you just talked about people coming in and it seems to becoming more secular, but who are the people you're following, what is the music that you are looking at?$$Right, so maybe some of these names will fail me, but I'm thinking about the first time that I went to Cosmopolitan House of Prayer [Cosmopolitan Church of Prayer, Chicago, Illinois]. And Daryl Coley was in concert, important gospel soloist come, Minister Bishop [ph.]. That there's something about Daryl Coley's presence, his sound, his voice that, you know, that one made him legend, but also seemed to attract just, it created a wave of style, a way of singing. And I remember being in Cosmopolitan and Cosmopolitan had a reputation for, yeah I'm thinking so much about the Pentecostal church and it's almost difficult to talk about. But there was, but there was like such fiercely feminine male presence. Wasn't always necessarily gay, it was, it was, you know, it's, it was a generation of men raised by women. It was a religion that didn't offer a way out while God was offering ways of understanding. It was like completely unforgiving and forgiving. And the, the way that you could see the sincerity of this, to me, feminine evocation of God was through the shout, through the wailing. Through, through the presence of the Holy Ghost these men would lose it. And when they would lose it, all gender normative values would be given up. And it was actually really for, for a young guy who, I mean I wouldn't have known that I was heterosexual, but for a young guy who's heterosexual, I mean I didn't, you know, maybe I didn't think about gender much at ten, eleven, twelve; fifteen, sixteen I was thinking about gender and why I was feminine and how having sisters impacted, just how I acted, not what I thought. That it was, it was in this place where I saw not only the complexities of God, I saw the complexities of people, kind of behavioral complexity and maybe even behavioral acceptance. And so it was really like in this period of fourteen to seventeen that gender construction, how, how a man acts, who a man is, how, how a man acts in relationship to who he is, that those things were like they were just wonderfully complicated to, to try to sort through and I think in the same way that I talk about the complexities of race and double consciousness. There was a moment where my understanding of gender, I felt, was much more complicated than my peers who acted male, acted manly, but so much so that they actually never kind of dealt with gender normative things, they just kind of accepted gender- gender norms. Yeah, so, so it was interesting to see the flamboyance presence among black men like, the you know, the dress, the style that it, that it was reminiscent of a earlier time, you know, the black dignity '20s [1920s], teens [1910s], when, when there were stakes around how you look and what you say and how you talk and stuff. And so I feel like I, I got a little bit of that, got a little bit of that generosity of gender and some clarity around what it means to be a per- a person in the world, a man in the world, and what that can look like and how, how those values which are maybe my mom's [Lorine Allen Gates] values. How feminine values move through a male body. How feminism, how politics might, might force us to imagine manliness differently than the way my dad [Theaster Gates, Sr.] was a man or the way my grandfather was a man.

James Phillips

Visual artist James Phillips was born in 1945 in Brooklyn, New York. Phillips attended the Fleisher Art Memorial School in Philadelphia in the 1960s. He then went on to study at the Philadelphia College of Art (University of the Arts for Philadelphia) from 1964 to 1965, followed by a brief affiliation with the Lee Cultural Center in 1968. Phillips then attended the Printing Trade School in New York City. From there, he became a member of the Harlem-founded Weusi Artist Collective, a group of young artists who made African iconic imagery and symbols a central part of their work, from 1969 to 1973.

In 1970, Phillips met the founding members of AfriCobra (African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists), a group that was committed to incorporating African aesthetics, iconography and positive political imagery into African American art. Phillips also became a member of AfriCobra. From 1973 to 1977, he served as an artist-in-residence at Howard University with duties as a mural consultant. Then, from 1977 to 1979, Phillips was affiliated with C.E.T.A., a nationwide arts initiative of the Carter Administration. After participating in the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Exchange Fellowship in Tokyo, Japan in 1980, he was appointed as a visiting lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley from 1983 to 1984. Phillips went on to teach courses at the Maryland Institute College of Art, and Hampton University. Phillips earned his M.F.A. degree from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 1998. In 2001, Phillips re-joined the faculty of the art department at Howard University as a lecturer, eventually becoming an associate professor of foundation and painting where he oversees all the graduate coursework.

As a painter, Phillips has participated in over seventy group and solo exhibitions in galleries and museums both nationally and internationally. His work is included in several well-known collections, including the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Arts and Artifacts Collection of the New York City Public Library and Hampton University. Phillips’ works have also been specially created for public art projects for the city of Baltimore, Howard University, the Department of Parks in New York City, and the transit system for the City of San Francisco. In 1994, he was commissioned by the Philadelphia Airport to create a permanent piece of art for their domestic wing. The Art in Embassies program of the United States Department of State purchased two of Phillips’ paintings in 2006 for the American Embassy in Togo, West Africa. Phillips was also honored with the Creative Artists Public Service Award in 1971.

James Phillips was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 5, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.210

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/5/2013

Last Name

Phillips

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Henry

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Harriton High School

Philadelphia Museum College of Art

Printing Trade School

Maryland Institute College of Art

Search Occupation Category
First Name

James

Birth City, State, Country

Brooklyn

HM ID

PHI06

Favorite Season

Spring

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Studio

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

4/29/1945

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Visual artist James Phillips (1945 - ) a member of the Weusi and AfriCobra artist groups, has participated in over seventy art exhibitions around the world. His work is included in several well-known collections.

Employment

Howard University

Museum Institute College of Art

Hampton University

University of California, Berkeley

Suitland High School

Favorite Color

All Colors

Timing Pairs
0,0:3910,25:7650,47:8030,52:29217,428:81580,901:108070,1089:117108,1174:141175,1386:142171,1410:161610,1686:170826,1818:182749,1954:186686,1995:240530,2454:240822,2459:253906,2573:256490,2612:273029,2816:273645,2831:293400,3095:293800,3101:310150,3310$0,0:3785,65:4748,79:25204,193:27756,228:42868,378:43808,389:128818,1468:131567,1473:161169,1793:161792,1805:177010,1938:182350,1969
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of James Phillips' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - James Phillips lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - James Phillips talks about his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - James Phillips describes his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - James Phillips talks about his father

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - James Phillips talks about his family

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - James Phillips describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - James Phillips describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - James Phillips talks about attending Northside School in Gretna, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - James Phillips talks about his parents' relationship

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - James Phillips talks about his affinity for art as a child at Northside School in Gretna, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - James Phillips talks about moving from Gretna, Virginia to Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - James Phillips describes the differences between Gretna, Virginia and Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - James Phillips talks about going to school in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - James Phillips describes his childhood interests and activities

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - James Phillips describes life in Gretna, Virginia and living next door to white sharecroppers

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - James Phillips describes his experience of racial discrimination in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - James Phillips talks about how he became involved with the March on Washington in 1963

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - James Phillips describes his teenage years in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - James Phillips talks about his activities at Harriton High School in Rosemont, Pennsylvania, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - James Phillips talks about his activities at Harriton High School in Rosemont, Pennsylvania, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - James Phillips remembers meeting HistoryMakers A.B. Spellman and Amiri Baraka, and Ted Jones

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - James Phillips talks about the origins of black art

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - James Phillips talks about his experience at the Philadelphia College of Art

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - James Phillips talks about moving to New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - James Phillips describes the music scene in New York City during the late 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - James Phillips talks about the music he listens to while painting

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - James Phillips describes becoming serious about creating visual art

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - James Phillips talks about his brief return to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and his involvement with the Lee Cultural Center

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - James Phillips talks about his return to New York City and his work as an opaquer and printer

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - James Phillips describes meeting members of the Weusi Artists Collective

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - James Phillips describes the origins of the Weusi Artists Collective which preceded the East Community Center

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - James Phillips talks about the East Educational and Cultural Center for People of African Descent

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - James Phillips talks about The Last Poets as well as other poets and musicians in New York City during the late 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - James Phillips talks about his artwork and meeting HistoryMaker A.B. Spellman

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - James Phillips talks about his painting "The Dealer"

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - James Phillips talks about Harlem, New York in the mid-1970s

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - James Phillips talks about artistic influences on the development of his painting style

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - James Phillips describes the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - James Phillips talks about the Studio Museum, the Weusi Artists Collective, and AfriCOBRA

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - James Phillips talks about incorporating African motifs and color contrast into his artwork

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - James Phillips remembers painting a backdrop for a John Coltrane award concert at Town Hall in 1973

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - James Phillips describes his art exhibitions in the 1970s

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - James Phillips gives a history of AfriCOBRA

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - James Phillips talks about AfriCOBRA and the evolution of his painting style while an artist-in-residence at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - James Phillips talks about HistoryMaker Jeff Donaldson

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - James Phillips talks about musician Donald Byrd

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - James Phillips describes the atmosphere at Howard University in Washington, D.C. during the 1970s

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - James Phillips talks about the pitfalls of making album cover artwork

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - James Phillips talks about his time as an artist-in-residence for the CETA Arts Program

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - James Phillips talks about his experience as an artist-in-residence at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - James Phillips talks about his NEA fellowship experience in Japan and his interest in mandalas, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - James Phillips talks about his NEA fellowship experience in Japan and his interest in mandalas, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - James Phillips talks about exploring new ways to present his ideas through art

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - James Phillips talks about the relationship between cosmograms across cultures

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - James Phillips talks about his time living in California

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - James Phillips describes his commissioned mural for Philadelphia International Airport, "Gateways to the World"

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - James Phillips talks about the logistics of government-funded public art, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - James Phillips talks about the logistics of government-funded public art, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - James Phillips describes earning his M.F.A. degree from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - James Phillips talks about the requirements for an M.F.A. degree at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - James Phillips describes earning his M.F.A. degree from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - James Phillips talks about his early teaching career

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - James Phillips talks about teaching at Howard University in Washington, D.C. and his career highlights

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - James Phillips describes highlights from his time at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - James Phillips talks about his students' artistic philosophies

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - James Phillips talks about his own artistic philosophy and practices

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - James Phillips reflects on his life

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - James Phillips reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - James Phillips talks about his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - James Phillips talks about his family

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - James Phillips reflects on how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - James Phillips narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$7

DAStory

7$2

DATitle
James Phillips describes life in Gretna, Virginia and living next door to white sharecroppers
James Phillips talks about exploring new ways to present his ideas through art
Transcript
Okay. So, now you're in school and, you're in high school, and you graduated in '62 [1962] or '63 [1963]?$$Sixty-four [1964].$$Sixty-four, [1964], okay, '64 [1964]. Now, you're in school when the March on Washington takes place [in 1963].$$Oh, yeah, I was here.$$Okay. So, you actually came to the March?$$Yeah.$$Well, tell us about that. How did you get a chance to go to the March?$$Well, I actually didn't finish talking about things when I was in [Gretna] Virginia.$$Okay, well, go ahead.$$Like I said, I was saying we had our farm. We had what I thought was our forty acres, which turns out to be twenty-two acres. And there was this white family, and they had a sharecropper. And the sharecroppers that they had, they had about three of them during the time that I was there, they were all white. Now, the house that I grew up in, it was basically a log cabin. And then they added on a kitchen, and a porch, and several other rooms, and upstairs. The house that the sharecroppers lived in was about the same. The only difference was, I mean, what I saw visually was they, they kept it painted. They painted the logs white, and where the dirt--they painted that brown. So, you had this brown and white posh looking cabin. Ours was just a cabin. And then later on, they would put that brick siding on it to uplift, spiff it up. So, so, the sharecroppers, they would have families, they had kids. And then of course, the Ingram [ph.] family, which owned--where the sharecroppers worked from--they had kids. And they were all a little older than me. So, they'd want to play, or I'd want to play, because I had nobody else to play with unless I went into town. And wasn't old enough at that time to go into town on my own, which was about a mile away. So, we would play. And we would have these little incidents. And they'd, of course, end up using the "N" word, right, and we'd end up fighting. So, and they would come back the next day. "Can..." they called me Jimmy then. "Can Jimmy come out and play?" So, this went on. And of course, if they saw me in town, you know, they'd look the other way, and I'd ignore them, too. So, this went on back and forth. And then the old--Mr. Ingram, the old man, he used to work for the railroad, and he only had one arm, so he was scary. There was another family called the Clays [ph.] that lived at the end of the road, and I used to play with their two sons. And Miss Ingram was very nice. She would invite me in the house, and he'd come home and chase me out. He had a son, Frank, Jr., he was a schoolteacher; I used to play with his kids. And his wife, I was okay with. But he'd come home and he'd chase me out. (Laughter). So, this thing went on. It was either--somebody--the mother or the father, it was either one or the other. Like, the Clay kids, the mother didn't like me associating with them, but I kind of grew on her, so then she said it was alright. So, I had this back and forth thing. And like I said, the town was a mile away. So as I got older, I started going into town hanging out with the black kids. And of course, I went, I would see them in school. And of course, we'd go, we all went to church together. So--$$Was that--you said it was, what kind of church was it?$$Baptist.$$Baptist, okay.$$Yeah.$All right.$$All right. So, this, we're talking about--but we're talking about what you learned in Japan.$$Oh, I just started to see a different direction for me to take my work. Because even back in the days when I was in New York [City], I had somewhat of a problem. Because I didn't really fit--the way I was working, with the work-- even though, you know, it had a strong connection with the African imagery and had a strong connection with the music--I had, I didn't fit in, because the uptown artists felt that it wasn't political enough. So, they had issues with it. The downtown artists--because there's two divisions of artists in New York [City], probably in Chicago [Illinois], too. You got the uptown artists and you got the downtown artists. And the downtown artists, most of them are in the galleries, and then people in uptown at the time were more political. They felt that my work was too African and too political. So I didn't really fit, because they weren't really looking at what I was doing, or they weren't aware of what I was doing. And the same thing happened when I did the mural at Cramton [Hall at Howard University in Washington, D.C.]. So, I was looking at this new way of presenting my ideas and making my statement, and still maintaining my sense of abstractionism. And see, one of the things--since I was in this limbo, one of the things that attracted me to AfriCOBRA [African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists] was the fact that they were very much into abstraction. Because they had--one of their principles is mid-point mimesis, which means that it's like a place between realism and abstraction. So, that was one of the reasons why I gravitated towards them and eventually stopped associating with Weusi [Artists Collective]. Well, one of the reasons was distance, particularly when I got to California, you know, it was too far away. So, this was a new--I guess you would call it a new search, a new direction for me.

Queen Brooks

Artist Queen Brooks was born in Columbus, Ohio on April 23, 1943 to Hattie Owens and Pomp Brooks. She graduated from East High School in 1971. After working for Central Ohio Transit Authority, Brooks apprenticed under Columbus photographer Kojo Kamau and began working at the J. Ashburn Jr. Youth Center as an arts and crafts instructor in 1980. While at the Ashburn Youth Center, Brooks discovered the art of pyrography or wood burning. Brooks then went back to school and graduated from Ohio State University with her B.F.A. and M.F.A. degrees in art in 1990 and 1992, respectively. In 1993, Brooks won the Lila Wallace, Reader’s Digest International Artist Award, which granted her a residency in the French port city of Abidjan in the Republic of the Ivory Coast, West Africa. Brooks then served as an adjunct professor in art instruction at Otterbein University from 1995 to 2002 and then at Ohio Dominican University from 2002 to 2006. In 2008, Brooks was hired as the lead artist for the Greater Columbus Arts Council’s Art in the Houseprogram.

Her work has been featured in Essence magazine and twice in the International Review of African American Art, and other publications. Brooks also created the portal entrance for the Kwanzaa Playground, Ohio’s first African-centered playground in Columbus, Ohio. Through a project grant from the Columbus Cultural Arts Center, Brooks, working with middle and high school students, designed and painted a mural at Columbus’ Krumm park area.

Brooks’ art has been exhibited at numerous sites throughout Ohio, and her works are in collections across the United States and in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire, West Africa.

Her work is among collections held in the collections of the Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio Dominican and Otterbein universities as well as the King Art Complex, Columbus, Ohio.

Brooks has also won numerous awards for her artwork, including the Ohioana Career Award in 2008, the highest recognition bestowed on an artist in the state of Ohio. She has earned distinction the Arts Freedom Award designee and an Arts Midwest National Endowment of the Arts Award in 2004 and 1994, respectively. Brooks also won the Excellence in the Arts Award from Ohio State University.

Queen Brooks was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 3, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.082

Sex

Female

Interview Date

4/3/2012

Last Name

Brooks

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Occupation
Schools

The Ohio State University

Central State University

Garfield Elementary School

St. Mary's South

St. Dominic's Elementary School

East High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Queen

Birth City, State, Country

Columbus

HM ID

BRO53

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

Los Angeles, California

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Ohio

Birth Date

4/23/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Columbus

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Barbecue (Ribs)

Short Description

Visual artist Queen Brooks (1943 - ) received numerous awards for her artwork, including the Ohioana Career Award, the highest recognition bestowed on an artist in the State of Ohio.

Employment

Greater Columbus Arts Council

Ohio Dominican University

Otterbein University

J. Ashburn Jr. Youth Center

The University of Rio Grande

Art Genesis

Kojo Photo Art Studio

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Queen Brooks' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Queen Brooks lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Queen Brooks describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Queen Brooks describes the Blackberry Patch community in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Queen Brooks describes her mother's education and personality

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Queen Brooks talks about her father's military service in World War I

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Queen Brooks remembers her paternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Queen Brooks describes her parents' personalities

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Queen Brooks talks about the origin of her name

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Queen Brooks describes her household

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Queen Brooks remembers her parents' boarders

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Queen Brooks describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Queen Brooks describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Queen Brooks remembers being molested at the Pythian Theater in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Queen Brooks recalls her early education

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Queen Brooks recalls her influences at St. Dominic's School in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Queen Brooks describes her childhood activities

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Queen Brooks describes her early art education

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Queen Brooks describes East High School in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Queen Brooks recalls her influences at East High School in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Queen Brooks remembers her involvement in the Girls Athletic Association

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Queen Brooks recalls her preparation for college

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Queen Brooks remembers her first commissioned artwork

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Queen Brooks recalls enrolling at Central State College in Wilberforce, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 15 - Queen Brooks talks about the birth of her son

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Queen Brooks talks about her experiences of childhood sexual abuse

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Queen Brooks recalls her employment after college

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Queen Brooks remembers meeting Kojo Kamau

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Queen Brooks recalls her mentors at the Kojo Photo Art Studio in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Queen Brooks remembers the Black Arts Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Queen Brooks talks about her commitment to her art

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Queen Brooks recalls her decision to attend art school

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Queen Brooks describes her artistic influences

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Queen Brooks talks about the lack of black arts education

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Queen Brooks remembers The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Queen Brooks talks about Barbara Chavous

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Queen Brooks describes the network of African American artists in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Queen Brooks recalls opening the Art Genesis gallery in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Queen Brooks describes her transition from photography to mixed media art

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Queen Brooks talks about her philosophy of art

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Queen Brooks talks about the black aesthetic

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Queen Brooks describes the themes of her artwork

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Queen Brooks talks about the financial aspects of being an artist

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Queen Brooks describes the influence of African American folk art

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Queen Brooks recalls her trip to Cote d'Ivoire

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Queen Brooks recalls her experiences in Cote d'Ivoire, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Queen Brooks recalls her experiences in Cote d'Ivoire, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Queen Brooks recalls her research on the crafts of Cote d'Ivoire

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Queen Brooks reflects upon her experiences in Cote d'Ivoire

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Queen Brooks recalls her teaching positions

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Queen Brooks reflects upon her career

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Queen Brooks shares her plans for the future

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Queen Brooks describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Queen Brooks reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Queen Brooks reflects upon her family, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Queen Brooks reflects upon her family, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Queen Brooks recalls her father's death

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Queen Brooks recalls her mother's opinion of her career

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Queen Brooks describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Queen Brooks narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

3$3

DATitle
Queen Brooks remembers meeting Kojo Kamau
Queen Brooks describes her transition from photography to mixed media art
Transcript
So you were, you were basically working, raising your son [Leslie Brooks] and--$$Working and raising my son.$$--and were, were you doing artwork at all during this period of time?$$Not initially. I didn't start doing artwork until after I met Kojo.$$Okay. So, so when did you meet Kojo?$$Let me see, it had to--let's see, it had to be around 1970, 1969, '70, [1970]. I think it was 1970.$$Okay, and--well tell us about what happened? How, how did meet him and (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Okay. After I was injured, I was living on my own and my son was--he was on his own pretty much. I saw an article in the paper about Kojo and he was [HistoryMaker] Kojo Kamau was a photographer and I saw an article in the paper about him and so I got out of bed and I decided to go see, you know, see this gallery that he was at. So I went by and I kept looking in the window and I went there like three days and looked in the window and never went in and that--from that experience I know how people can be intimidated by art, by something that they're not quite familiar with and so--because I was--I wasn't familiar with it. I was just so curious because he was black and he was in the paper. And he had these pictures from Africa and, you know, so I just went to see it. So he came out and he said, "Why don't you come in?" And I said, "I don't have any money." And he said he said, "You don't need money to look at pictures." And I said, "You don't?" He said, "Not in the art gallery, you just come in and look at pictures." And from that time on I went to the gallery every day. I sat around and I talked to him and then he gave me a job and he said, "Well, you wanna assist me in the darkroom?" And I said, "Sure." So I started as his assistant and then I started to take care of his gallery [Kojo Photo Art Studio, Columbus, Ohio].$$(OFF CAMERA DISCUSSION)$$Now tell us a little bit about who Kojo Kamau is?$$Okay. Kojo Kamau is a wonderful person. He's a gentlemen, soft spoken, extremely knowledgeable about his community, (unclear) photographer, a friend to everybody and a stranger to no one, a welcoming person. He's a--he started the first--okay he had the first black, African American whatever art gallery and it was the first place that African American artists could go gather and meet each other, converse about art and show our work to the public. He made no distinction between the kinds of work we did. He loved fine art, he loved folk art. He just loved art, he didn't care whether it was photography or painting. And his wife--he--then he was married to Mary Ann Williams who was a professor at Ohio State [The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio], and she was into poetry, and there was another--Anna Bishop who was a living legend at the time, was a poet. Her and Mary Ann Williams were very close, and they spent a lot of time at the gal- at, at the gallery. Barbara Chavous was a, a well known artist, well known, Aminah [Aminah Robinson] is well known in Columbus [Ohio]--Aminah. But, at the time she was just a young artist like myself, and Barbara Chavous was the, the one that was the noted black artist here. And they would all come together. We'd come together and Kojo would just have a place for us to be welcomed in, you know, can collaborate and just, you know, encourage one another.$You got your B.F.A. from Ohio State [The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio] in '92 then you got your M.F.A.--$$No, I got my B.F.A. in '90 [1990].$$Ninety [1990], okay, all right.$$And my (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) The M.F.A.--$$In '92 [1992].$$In '92 [1992], okay, all right.$$I do know those two for sure.$$Okay, all right, all right, 1992. Okay, so we're straight now. So, what, what--now in terms of your artwork--I mean how, how did it progress it? What did you start doing or working on and, and how did it progress?$$I started as a photographer, and it evolved into wood burnings because I started to--I was working at J. Ashburn Youth Center [J. Ashburn Jr. Youth Center, Columbus, Ohio] even while I was going to school, while I was in college and someone gave me some art burn- some wood burning tools for the kids to use. And the kids didn't wanna use it (laughter) they--it was like it's too slow, they might get burnt, you know, they didn't have the patience so at six--let's see, I worked from three to nine [o'clock]. And at six o'clock all the little people that I worked with left and they had to leave, and it was supposed to from six to nine was supposed to be for the teenagers, and the young adults. Well the teenagers didn't wanna do art. They wanted to be in the gym. The boys wanted to do gym and the girls wanted to watch the boys do gym, so I had to be there regardless of who was in the room. I had to keep it open so I started to, you know, just play with the wood burning instruments because I had time. And it evolved into an art form for me. Now wood burning instruments are usually used in--for crafts or like--basically it's an art form with people that work on ducks. Those little ducks.$$Decoys?$$Decoys, yeah. There's an art form that they used that with, so it's like a craft. But I just started to create images and burn the images into wood as if I was drawing them. So it evolved. I, I got a more sophisticated art burning tool, and I just went on from there. And then the wood burning--I just started to do paintings and drawings, and then the paintings led to assemblages and, and so I'm a mixed media artist now. I just work in all medias and I put them all together however they'll work for me. My thing is one medium just can't speak to everything that I wanna say.$$Okay.$$So I choose the best medium for whatever it is that I'm trying to express.

Florence Farley

Politician and university professor Florence Saunders Farley was born on May 28, 1928 in Roanoke, Virginia to Neoda and Stacious Saunders. She attended Harrison Elementary School in Roanoke. After graduating as the salutatorian of her class from Lucy Addison High School in 1946, Farley graduated from Virginia State College (now Virginia State University) with her B.S. degree in psychology and her M.S. degree in educational psychology in 1950 and 1954, respectively. In 1951, Farley was commissioned in the United States Women’s Army Corps (WAC) as a second lieutenant, and became the first African American female training officer at Fort Lee, Virginia.

Farley served as Chief Psychologist at Central State Hospital in Petersburg, Virginia, and was the first African American clinically licensed, by examination, psychologist in the state of Virginia. Farley then joined the faculty at Virginia State where she taught graduate and undergraduate students for over forty years and also served as the chair of the department of psychology. Farley obtained her Ph.D. degree in psychology in 1977 from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. Farley also began her political career in 1973 when she was the first woman elected to the Petersburg City Council and became a member of Virginia’s first majority black city council. Farley won re-election in 1978 and 1982. In 1984, after the resignation of Mayor R. Wilson Cheely, Farley became the first female mayor of Petersburg and the first African American woman to become mayor of a Virginia city.

From 2002 to 2006, Farley served on the Petersburg School Board and held the post of vice chair during her time on the school board. Farley has also received acclaim as a textile artist, exhibiting her needlework in libraries and museums across the state. In 2010, Farley was recognized by The Library of Virginia as an “African American Trailblazer in Virginia History.” Farley maintains an independent psychology practice in Petersburg.

Florence Farley was interviewed was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 10, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.019

Sex

Female

Interview Date

2/10/2012

Last Name

Farley

Middle Name

S.

Schools

Kent State University

Virginia State University

Harrison School

Lucy Addison High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Florence

Birth City, State, Country

Roanoke

HM ID

FAR06

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Casinos

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Virginia

Birth Date

5/28/1928

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Petersburg

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Beans (Pinto)

Short Description

Visual artist, psychology professor, and mayor Florence Farley (1928 - ) was the first woman to be elected to a city council seat in Petersburg, Virginia and the first African American woman to become mayor of a Virginian city.

Employment

Virginia State University

Petersburg (Va.)

Women's Army Auxiliary Corps

Central State Hospital

Favorite Color

Pink

Timing Pairs
0,0:747,9:1909,42:7138,176:13530,279:13860,286:23140,442:28036,502:29071,520:30589,551:30865,556:34246,673:49491,851:50915,887:53478,901:68116,1083:68845,1094:69169,1099:70546,1124:75130,1153:75850,1195:79168,1233:79573,1239:80464,1252:84514,1329:86377,1362:87430,1379:87754,1384:88888,1401:96928,1453:97396,1461:101950,1512:102350,1518:104750,1548:105790,1563:107870,1603:110350,1659:115493,1691:115801,1696:118034,1728:118496,1735:121499,1802:121961,1809:122269,1814:130567,1905:133390,1919:139299,1983:139931,1998:141195,2023:141827,2034:148634,2139:152372,2191:163910,2370$0,0:800,20:1840,40:3040,60:7040,146:7360,151:10800,208:12320,290:19869,335:20760,396:21084,401:22542,427:26154,456:26569,462:27994,472:28379,478:32229,553:38076,668:38622,676:39012,682:39636,713:40182,721:40572,727:42600,792:45486,846:45876,852:46266,858:46578,863:55110,939:56510,969:56930,976:58820,1010:63160,1124:64140,1141:64700,1152:66100,1189:70340,1200:76643,1265:77820,1278:78783,1290:79211,1295:83664,1324:85932,1356:86337,1362:88767,1452:89172,1458:91602,1476:92088,1483:100888,1574:105400,1670:110584,1739:110968,1744:118120,1783:122232,1816:123365,1830:124086,1836:124807,1845:127955,1865:128480,1874:142684,2070:143316,2082:144422,2098:144817,2104:145212,2110:148970,2129:150330,2156:151290,2169:151690,2175:159050,2358:164545,2404:168172,2424:168916,2435:170497,2455:176821,2548:181238,2584:182894,2607:183538,2616:183906,2621:184550,2630:184918,2635:185562,2643:189865,2691:190205,2696:190545,2701:191225,2710:196410,2817:196835,2823:197345,2830:198790,2846:199300,2854:203870,2894:204255,2900:204717,2908:205410,2922:205718,2930:206719,2950:207874,2973:215652,3056:219864,3109:221646,3153:222051,3159:222456,3165:222861,3171:232540,3299:235005,3360:235430,3367:235940,3375:237750,3380
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Florence Farley's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Florence Farley lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Florence Farley describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Florence Farley talks about the origin of her maternal relatives' names

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Florence Farley describes her mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Florence Farley talks about her family's homeownership

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Florence Farley describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Florence Farley recalls her father's militant views of the South

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Florence Farley describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Florence Farley describes her relationship with her maternal grandmother

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Florence Farley talks about her community in Roanoke, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Florence Farley remembers the Harrison School in Roanoke, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Florence Farley talks about her academic experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Florence Farley remembers Lucy Addison High School in Roanoke, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Florence Farley remembers the segregated movie theaters in Roanoke, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Florence Farley talks about her favorite films

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Florence Farley describes her early interest in reading

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Florence Farley recalls her aspiration to attend college

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Florence Farley remembers her influential teachers

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Florence Farley describes her graduation from Lucy Addison High School in Roanoke, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Florence Farley talks about Negro History Week at Lucy Addison High School

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Florence Farley recalls working part time at Burrell Memorial Hospital in Roanoke, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Florence Farley talks about the relocation of Virginia State College

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Florence Farley describes her first impressions of Petersburg, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Florence Farley recalls changing her major to psychology

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Florence Farley describes her favorite psychology professors

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Florence Farley talks about her job prospects after graduating from Virginia State College

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Florence Farley describes her social activities in Petersburg, Virginia

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Florence Farley remembers the presidents of Virginia State College in Petersburg, Virginia

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Florence Farley recalls teaching at the Bellevue School in Hollins, Virginia

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Florence Farley recalls joining the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Florence Farley describes her experiences in the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Florence Farley recalls her master's degree program at Virginia State College

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Florence Farley remembers Vernon Johns, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Florence Farley remembers Vernon Johns, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Florence Farley talks about the public school shutdown in Prince Edward County, Virginia, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Florence Farley talks about the public school shutdown in Prince Edward County, Virginia, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Florence Farley remembers the Crownsville State Hospital in Crownsville, Maryland

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Florence Farley describes her experiences at the Central State Hospital in Petersburg, Virginia, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Florence Farley describes her experiences at the Central State Hospital, in Petersburg, Virginia, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Florence Farley describes the psychiatric hospitals of the 1950s

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Florence Farley describes the conditions at Central State Hospital in Petersburg, Virginia

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Florence Farley recalls her reason for resigning from Central State Hospital

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Florence Farley remembers her early teaching experiences at Virginia State College in Petersburg, Virginia

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Florence Farley talks about the founding of the Association of Black Psychologists, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Florence Farley talks about the founding of the Association of Black Psychologists, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Florence Farley describes the early accomplishments of the Association of Black Psychologists

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Florence Farley talks about the civil rights protests in Petersburg, Virginia, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Florence Farley talks about the civil rights activities in Petersburg, Virginia, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Florence Farley remembers the black elected officials in Petersburg, Virginia

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Florence Farley recalls obtaining a doctoral degree at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Florence Farley talks about her experiences as mayor of Petersburg, Virginia

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Florence Farley describes the community of Petersburg, Virginia

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Florence Farley remembers her mayoralty of Petersburg, Virginia

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Florence Farley describes her introduction to city politics in Petersburg, Virginia

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Florence Farley recalls serving as a professor during her mayoralty of Petersburg, Virginia

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Florence Farley talks about her students at Virginia State University in Petersburg, Virginia

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Florence Farley describes the history of psychiatric drugs, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Florence Farley describes the history of psychiatric drugs, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Florence Farley talks about the prevalence of mental illness in the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Florence Farley describes her concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Florence Farley reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Florence Farley reflects upon her life

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Florence Farley recalls learning to cross stitch

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Florence Farley describes her family

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Florence Farley recalls her mother's reaction to her dismissal from Virginia State College

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Florence Farley talks about her pendant necklace from Africa

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Florence Farley recalls the challenges of integrating higher education in the State of Virginia

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Florence Farley narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$5

DAStory

6$5

DATitle
Florence Farley talks about her family's homeownership
Florence Farley describes the psychiatric hospitals of the 1950s
Transcript
Did your grandmother [Lula Ware] and your mother [Neoda Ware Saunders] own their own land? I mean, did they, I mean did your grandmother own the land that she--?$$Oh, when my grandmother, as I said, she moved to Roanoke [Virginia], and she brought the family to Roanoke. So my mother grew up in Danville [Virginia] until she was I guess maybe ten or twelve years old, and then she came to Roanoke--okay, my mother moved to Roanoke. And my grandmother bought--and my uncle [Alfred Ware], see, and my grandmother lived together. So, my uncle worked full time for the railroad [Norfolk and Western Railway]. So he bought his home, he bought the home, and that's where my grandmother and he lived. And then right around the, on the next block--well, her house was on the corner, and if you go around the block, that was where my--she bought another house, and in that house she put my mother on the first floor and my aunt and uncle on the upstairs. So, she had her two families there, and she was right on the corner. She could watch the house, you know. We could as we--as my mother had more children and all, but my mother, after she married my father [Stacious Saunders], they moved to Pittsburgh [Pennsylvania]. And so my older brothers and sisters, some of my older brothers and sisters, were born in Pittsburgh. My grandmother, of course, was very unhappy, but she just couldn't get her back to Roanoke. And so my mother and father had a home in Pittsburgh and it caught fire and it burned all of their possessions. So that gave my grandmother an opportunity to get her hands back on my mother. So she brought her back, it was supposed to be temporary, to Roanoke, and they came back to Roanoke and stayed, and that's where the rest of us were born, and that's where we lived. So she bought this house and as I said before, initially the two families lived in it. As the family started expanding, my grandmother bought another house, and my uncle and his wife and children moved from the second floor of that house into the second house that my grandmother--it was the third house then--that she bought, which was again right there in the neighborhood. But, you know, my mother and father finished paying for the house, but she was the, she was the one who started both of those houses.$$Okay.$$So, so we always lived in a house that was owned by us.$These were the days when you could, you were committed to a hospital if you were supposed to be insane or something?$$Yes, yes.$$And just kind of talk about it a little--because people don't often understand that now (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Okay. This--basically, you know I forget that, I do. I forget time. It was, Central State [Central State Hospital, Petersburg, Virginia] was the only hospital in Virginia that blacks could go. Usually in every state you would have a psychiatric facility or a hospital for the severely mentally ill in that region. So we had Southwest Hospital [sic. Southwestern Virginia Mental Health Institute, Marion, Virginia], Western State Hospital [Staunton, Virginia], Eastern State Hospital [Williamsburg, Virginia]. So whites had, could go to a hospital that more or less was close in their region, which meant that their relatives could come and visit them and so forth. Blacks all had to come to Central State. So no matter where you lived, if you lived far west, southwest Virginia, you had to come all the way down to Petersburg [Virginia] if you had a relative who was committed to the hospital. When I was there, the last day I was there, the patient population was about forty-five hundred. It was, at the time before, this is the time before tranquilizers. I was working at Central, Crownsville State Hospital [Crownsville Hospital Center, Crownsville, Maryland] when the first drugs came. There were no drugs for mental illness. The patients were given electroshock therapy, they were given lobotomies--it was like if you ever saw the movie 'Snake Pit' ['The Snake Pit'], it was 'Snake Pit', okay. And we worked, we were there, we worked. The odors--like it was not clean, they were not clean. Patients were hurdled into rooms and just seated, just there all day long, very few things going on. I will say this: before I left, I had some of the newsletters. We'd even gotten newsletters out. And it described the activities that we were able to do. I stayed at Central State seven years and we were able, I was able to pull in young black psychologists from different, who had gone to historically black schools [historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs)], who were not trained as clinicians. But I trained them on the spot, and trained them how to be clinical psychologists right there at the hospital. And so we made, things changed, but this was a transitional period also where they were moving from what I would call a snake pit kind of environment to a more hospital like environment. And the patients now, I think, they may have three or four hundred patients at the hospital. But they had, it was over four thousand patients the last day I was there. That was the census report, we got a census report every day. But all black people came there, and some of them, they were in locked wards. I was there when we first decided that we would have what you call unlocked wards. Some patients hadn't touched the ground in twenty-five years, but when we unlocked those wards, we let them be able to walk on the dirt surface. They didn't even know, see, how a human being would walk on the ground when they had never walked on anything but those wooden floors in those buildings. They had to change their whole gait, their whole way of walking, you know. So it was quite, quite a time.

Synthia Saint James

Visual artist Synthia Saint James was born in Los Angeles, California to Henrietta Ellastein Talbird and William Jasper James on February 11, 1949. James attended public school in both Los Angeles, California and New York City. During her senior year at Los Angeles High School, she was crowned as the first African American homecoming queen. After graduating high school, James briefly attended Los Angeles Valley College, worked as a writer for Shelter Records and later worked in the media department of Disney Studios.

James' career as an artist began in 1969 when she sold a painting in New York City to one of her co-workers. She continued to work in corporate America in the accounting department, only painting in her spare time. In 1984, she developed her unique style of painting human figures without facial features. She has completed more than forty commissioned works for individuals and organizations such as Mridgitte Matteuzzi’s School of Modern Jazz Ballet, The Los Angeles Women’s Foundation, Essence Magazine and attorney Johnnie Cochran. In addition, her artwork has appeared on the covers of numerous books, including works by Alice Walker, Terry McMillan and Julia Boyd. In 1997, James was chosen by the United States Postal Service to create the first Kwanzaa stamp.

James has written more than a dozen children’s books, she is the author of two books of poetry and prose, entitled Girlfriends and Can I Touch You: Love Poems and Affirmations and wrote a multi-cultural cookbook Creative Fixings From the Kitchen. James’ pieces have been featured in galleries around the globe, including exhibitions at the Musée Des Duncans, The Chicago Art Institute and Cosmopolitan Artists. She has received numerous awards, including a 1997 Coretta Scott King Honor and a Parent’s Choice Silver Honor for her children’s book Sunday.

Synthia Saint James was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 16, 2004.

Accession Number

A2004.234

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/16/2004

Last Name

Saint James

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Los Angeles High School

Alta Loma Elementary School

Los Angeles Valley College

Duchess Community College

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Any

First Name

Synthia

Birth City, State, Country

Los Angeles

HM ID

SAI01

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $1,000 - $5,000

Favorite Season

Summer

State

California

Favorite Vacation Destination

Tahiti

Favorite Quote

See Ya, Wouldn't Want To Be Ya!

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

2/11/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chinese Food

Short Description

Visual artist Synthia Saint James (1949 - ) created the first Kwanzaa stamp for The United States Postal Service. Her artwork has also appeared on numerous book covers including the Terry McMillan title 'Waiting to Exhale'.

Employment

Atelier Saint James

Accounting Arts

Macy's Department Stores

Phoenix House

Shelter Records

Favorite Color

Cadmium Yellow

Timing Pairs
0,0:3004,34:15564,264:20085,302:20680,310:21530,323:24808,357:28488,441:30604,466:31064,472:34652,536:38734,574:39308,584:52414,722:53590,742:54178,750:61402,889:78494,1073:79570,1112:81982,1158:83389,1201:83657,1206:83992,1212:84327,1244:84662,1250:84997,1256:87700,1290:96590,1453:97230,1464:98030,1475:98590,1501:100910,1523:112373,1709:137134,2073:138454,2121:151695,2430:172562,2810:179184,2986:187302,3160:187876,3171:200238,3297:202920,3333:206001,3386:210030,3476:210346,3481:212874,3525:222534,3662:227210,3719$0,0:5418,170:8514,222:9288,232:13760,323:19349,364:20201,379:20982,392:22686,414:23112,421:23609,429:24532,443:26094,469:26733,479:29360,538:30070,551:30354,556:30780,563:43950,769:46160,967:46670,1047:63112,1210:67179,1301:73155,1412:73902,1429:85764,1584:94864,1751:102235,1877:103145,1890:104055,1901:113800,1977:116435,2023:116775,2028:117795,2094:128986,2223:129362,2228:141394,2414:141770,2419:142334,2426:153244,2503:155220,2576:155524,2581:159395,2633:159770,2639:160370,2647:165546,2714:171629,2896:185204,3101:187388,3155:194940,3248:195300,3253:196650,3291:197010,3296:197910,3311:198270,3316:200880,3372:201870,3402:210090,3499:211260,3560:217020,3658:219690,3663
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Synthia Saint James's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Synthia Saint James lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Synthia Saint James talks about her maternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Synthia Saint James describes her mother's life in New York, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Synthia Saint James describes her father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Synthia Saint James recalls her early career aspirations

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Synthia Saint James describes her father's profession

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Synthia Saint James describes her experiences growing up in Los Angeles, California and New York, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Synthia Saint James describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Synthia Saint James remembers being held back in kindergarten in the Bronx, New York, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Synthia Saint James remembers moving to Los Angeles, California during first grade

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Synthia Saint James talks about her interest in horses as a girl

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Synthia Saint James remembers her mother's conversion to Jehovah's Witnesses

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Synthia Saint James talks about her parents' divorce and her stepmother

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Synthia Saint James remembers her art instruction in school

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Synthia Saint James describes teachers who influenced her

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Synthia Saint James recalls being crowned the first African American homecoming queen at Los Angeles High School in 1966

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Synthia Saint James remembers working at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Synthia Saint James talks about her theater training

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Synthia Saint James remembers living in New York, New York as a young adult

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Synthia Saint James recalls her roles in various blackploitation movies

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Synthia Saint James talks about working at Shelter Records

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Synthia Saint James explains how her art career began

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Synthia Saint James describes the development of her artistic style

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Synthia Saint James talks about her associations with other African American artists

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Synthia Saint James remembers her big break

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Synthia Saint James describes her artistic style

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Synthia Saint James outlines her career

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Synthia Saint James describes her books

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Synthia Saint James explains how long it takes to make her paintings

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Synthia Saint James remembers being asked to design a Kwanzaa stamp for the United States postal service in 1997

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Synthia Saint James recalls the reception of her Kwanzaa stamp design

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Synthia Saint James describes her recent mosaic and stained glass pieces

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Synthia Saint James explains the frustrations of creating public art

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Synthia Saint James explains her philosophy of art

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Synthia Saint James talks about her lack of formal training

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Synthia Saint James shares lessons she learned trying to exhibit her work at galleries as a self-taught artist

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Synthia Saint James talks about the false distinction between commercial art and fine art

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Synthia Saint James gives advice to aspiring artists

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Synthia Saint James describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Synthia Saint James talks about the uplifting spirit of her art

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Synthia Saint James talks about comparisons between Haitian art and her own work

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Synthia Saint James reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Synthia Saint James talks about her family's reactions to her success and their interest in art

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Synthia Saint James reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Synthia Saint James talks about her plans for the future

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Synthia Saint James recalls her decision not to marry or have children

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Synthia Saint James talks about her daily walks on the beach

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Synthia Saint James describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Synthia Saint James narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

4$1

DATitle
Synthia Saint James remembers her big break
Synthia Saint James remembers being asked to design a Kwanzaa stamp for the United States postal service in 1997
Transcript
When would you say that you got a chance to really do art full-time, or when did your big break come?$$Hm, let me think, I've had--you know you have those little peaks and then those little valleys and those little peaks. I think--$$When was the first peak?$$The first peak was mid-'80s [1980s], when Richard Pryor bought five paintings. It was redoing a home in--well, actually it was a new home in Bel Air [Los Angeles, California], and there was fifteen pieces taken there, and between the interior designer and himself, five were chosen. So that was a peak; prior to that, no, that would be about the first one. Because then the second peak was, 1989, being commissioned by the House of Seagrams Corporation to do something for black history month and then (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) What did you do for House of Seagrams?$$A piece called 'With Honors,' a graduation scene. It's in their collection and original lithographs were made of it and were donated to the National Urban League, and they sold them as fundraisers to bring money into their funds. So that was the first one that--and then, they kind of trickle, you know little trickle things happening. I did something for the Mark Taper Forum [Los Angeles, California] right after that. And around, I guess it was around '73 [1973], with [HistoryMaker] Terry McMillan's book, was that Ter (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Ninety-three [1993], ninety--$$--ninety-three [1993]. That was a commercial success; that's something that put me into book covers, although I did a book cover for Alice Walker first--$$Okay.$$--but it was a book of the month club selection, so the world didn't see it, and that same cover is reissued now; it just came out again (laughter) of Alice's.$$Okay, what book was that of Alice Walker's?$$Well, it's a trilogy, it has 'Meridian' in it and '[The] Color Purple' and '[The Third Life of] Grange Copeland,' you know it's like--I don't have it here, 'cause I gave it--oh, I have of 'em here, yeah, I have one. And, but what Terry's book cover did is propelled me into another arena. Authors started feeling like if they had a book cover by [HistoryMaker] Synthia Saint James, they're gonna be a number one best seller (laughter). So now I have over sixty book covers.$$Okay.$$You know, but (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) So the book that you, that--$$'Waiting to Exhale.'$$'Waiting to Exhale,' all right--$$Right.$$--and that was a--now Terry McMillan's previous two books, 'Mama' and (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) 'Disappearing Acts'--$$'Disappearing Acts' sold well, increasingly well, but 'Waiting to Exhale' was a big huge hit (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) It was a big one, and then that's when they released the other two again, and I did covers for them when they re-released them and for Japan, I--they used a piece of mine for 'How Stella Got Her Groove Back.'$$Okay (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yeah.$$So I think that's probably, would you agree that's when your work got the most exposure, I guess (unclear)--$$Yeah, that's when I really became--not became, I've always been African American--but I mean, that's when I became more known as a black artist, you know. And they usually thought of me as a woman's artist, meaning that everything, a lot of it was female, women and sisterhood and--put me to that sisterhood kind of thing, which is fine, 'cause that is part of what I do. But with her book, Terry McMillan also did for me it had that same company ask me to do a children's book, and since that I've done thirteen children's books, picture books, and four activity books. But it was off of the bright colors, and off of seeing that first cover. That's how I got my other work.$I want to ask you about the big Kwanzaa stamp controversy (laughter).$$Oh, God (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Not so much as a controversy--$$Right, yeah--$$--but as a tremendous opportunity, this is a--you designed the country's first Kwanzaa stamp--$$Right.$$--and, tell us about how you got a chance to do that, and?$$Well, I would say that it kind of is the wonders of the Internet and research. I began to really realize that a lot as things have come to me at different times. I know I've done a lot of work, but in researching Kwanzaa, the U.S. Postal Service came across a children's book author that I had done the cover of her Kwanzaa book ['The Seven Days of Kwanzaa,' Angela Shelf Medearis] (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Okay, now, what--?$$--so I'd done a book cover, and I'm--$$Now, what's the author?$$Angela Shelf Medearis is her name, and I don't have in front of me the exact name of the Kwanzaa book, but that was the--they based it only on that; they didn't know anything else about my art. When they called me, 'cause they actually got my phone number and called me, 'cause later I asked how they got my phone number, because a good little New York [New York] girl keeps her phone number unlisted, so I don't understand how they got my number. But then I said it was the government, they can get your number. So, anyway, they called and asked me if I would and being the follow-up person that I am from the business of advertising promotion, I sent them a media kit, and then it was so sweet when the designer called me back, and she said, "Do you have time to, you know, to design a Kwanzaa stamp," and I just smiled and said, "I'd make time to do that." So we went through the process and the interesting part of the process is that I had to paint something really small, so it was like 4.5 by 5.5 inches of a painting, with detail to it, but still enough simplicity that the 32 cents can show clearly. So they--she sent me a couple a little formats, and I did two paintings, and the one that became the Kwanzaa stamp is based on a painting I did for my book that I wrote and illustrated called, 'The Gifts of Kwanzaa' [Synthia Saint James], so that's where that came from. And then, in that same week, I got a call from Girl Scouts of the USA to ask me to do their thirty-fifth anniversary image poster, so I called that my all-American week, you know, the Girl Scouts and the U.S. Postal Service. I'd have to say, I was so excited about the stamp--to even believe that you could pick up the phone and call somebody back and that you got this commission, you know, and the opportunity to do the first African American holiday stamp--it's really, you know, with that--it's the first, that, yeah.$$Artist normally compete to (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yes.$$--for a chance to do a postage stamp, is (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Right.$$--there was a scene in 'Fargo' where the husband of the protagonist [Marge Gunderson], Frances McDormand's husband, Norman, Norm [Gunderson], he paints decoy ducks, and he's been submitting his ideas to the U.S. Postal Service, and they finally pick a three cent, and he's like halfway depressed and halfway excited, I mean--but it's competition, right?$$Well I, in this case, it must not have been. I mean, they must have done some research and decided--I don't know if it had to do with time, they were putting out a whole holiday series, and I didn't compete, and I never had submitted myself to them before. So that's where, let's say, that was the beauty of the Internet that they did research and they found Kwanzaa, and I happened to be the artist that they chose to call.