Already one of the cultural highlights of 2019, Suzanne Jackson's Five Decades Retrospective at the Telfair Museums' Jepson Center for the Arts in Savannah, Georgia (USA), just doubled its considerable impact with officials' announcement of the September 25, 2019, scheduled publication of the exhibition catalog and immediate acceptance of pre-orders for the title.
A highly-regarded but often overlooked visual artist throughout her career, the opening of Jackson's retrospective on June 27 has brought her increasing international recognition and critical acclaim. The new catalog, edited by Telfair Museums curator Rachel Reese, promises to deliver more of the same with powerful text contributions from: iconic artist Betye Saar, Dr. Tiffany C. Barber, Dr. Melanee C. Harvey, Ph.D. candidate julia elizabeth neal, and author-poet-artist Aberjhani.
As pointed out by Shantay Robinson writing for Black Art in America: "Suzanne Jackson is the flower that sprouts up through the crack of the concrete.... Her passion is evident through more than five decades of work. Despite turbulent times, where racism and sexism might have rejected her, she believes in love and beauty. And this belief sustains" (Suzanne Jackson Five Decades of Encouraging Life).
A similar observation can be found in Aberjhani's poem, "Suzannian Algorithm Finger-Painted on an Abstract Wall," composed specifically for the catalog. In it, he notes: "Her Life, like her Love, pulses painted poems/ streaking an abstract wall with impeccable grace."
Reflective of Current Trends
Jackson's work in many ways reflects the historical trends which have developed over the past few years and which are likely to influence world culture for the foreseeable future. Strong correlations to Meaningful relevance to demands for environmental justice, the powerful movement to increase gender equality, intensified advocacy to end racism, and expanding cultural diversity are all easily apparent within her work. Moreover, this relevance and the hard-won recognition of the artist's labors comes during the 100th anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance, a period when a handful of influential African-American women artists first began to pave the way for future talents like Saar and Jackson.
"I don't think the service which the Telfair Museums has rendered the world by creating the Five Decades Retrospective, and which Suzanne Jackson herself has done by living her vision all these years, can be overstated," said Aberjhani. "We're at a tipping point in history where her visualized insights stand among some of the most valuable tools available for engaging in critical discourses of existential consequence and designing strategies for confronting some of our most urgent social and political challenges."
Jackson's retrospective is currently scheduled to remain at the Telfair Museums Jepson Center for the Arts in Savannah until October 13, 2019. To learn about the catalog or pre-order a copy please visit the museum's online shop.
Bright Skylark News Notes
The late Dr. Abigail H. Jordan (1925-2019), who led the decade-long battle to erect the African-American Family Monument in Savannah, Georgia, and who in 1991 founded the Consortium of Doctors, was duly honored in the city July 25-28, 2019, with the unveiling of a new plaque for the monument and other noted events celebrating her legacy.
Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach, along with Dr. Jordan's son, Atlanta businessman Ken Jordan, and members of the Consortium of Doctors all participated in the historic event. Mr. Jordan noted the new plaque corrected the previous omission not only of his mother's name, but that of sculptress Dorothy Spradley, also present for the unveiling.
From the inscription: "Educator, Leaders, Trailblazer, and community activist Dr. Jordan's vision, tenacity, and financial contributions were the driving force that ensured the Savannah Riverfront was the home of the first statue in Savannah that honors African Americans. The Consortium of Doctors, Ltd, an organization that Dr. Jordan founded in 1991, made significant contributions to this effort. Sculptress: Dorothy Spradley. This plaque unveiled July 26, 2019." (Photograph by Aberjhani)
The occasion marked the Consortium's 28th conference anniversary. A television cameraman and crowd of excited onlookers recorded videos, took photographs, and applauded as the covering was removed from the new plaque.
Artwork Added ‘Strong Sense’ of Jordan’s Presence to Event
One key component to the weekend of festivities was the artwork by Aberjhani titled "Historic Triumph of Dr. Abigail Jordan," a multimedia composition which includes original interpretations of images of Abigail H. Jordan and the African-American Monument combined with original abstract art. The piece was used on large framable cards, a poster, a tapestry draping the speaker’s podium at the Bouquet of Doctors banquet in the DeSoto Hotel, and on the cover of the banquet program. The artwork, according to various attendees, evoked a strong sense of Dr. Jordan's spiritual presence.
"As many people know already, Dr. Jordan is a principal subject of the story titled "The Bridge and the Monument: A Tale of Two Legacies," published in Dreams of the Immortal City Savannah," said Aberjhani. "It was my great honor and pleasure to count myself among the foot soldiers who assisted her however we could when completing preparations for the dedication of the African-American Monument in 2002. I'm happy to see that honor extended to this very special moment."
In addition to the unveiling of the new plaque and the Bouquet of Doctors Banquet (for induction of new Consortium members), conference events included a Think Tank session held at the historic First African Baptist Church and a Youth Summit at Savannah's famous Beach Institute. Among the attendees at the banquet was former Savannah mayor Edna Jackson, who was presented with a special award.
For more information on the Consortium of Doctors please visit: https://www.consortiumofdoctors.com/
Bright Skylark News Notes
EBR Writers Club Honoring Past Women Trustrees: Weathers, Walker Alexander, Angelou, Brooks, and Teer
East St. Louis, IL--Dr. Lena Jane Weathers (1930-2017), who was a lifelong resident of East St. Louis and an invaluable leader and patron of the community, will be honored along with four more late women trustees of the Eugene B. Redmond Writers Club on Tuesday, March 21, 2017.
The free event, held in honor of Women's History Month 2017, will take place 6 PM in Room 2083 of Building “B” on the East St. Louis Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (ESL SIUE) Higher Education Campus, 601 J.R. Thompson Drive 62201.
Other trustee-honorees are poet-novelist-scholar Margaret Walker Alexander (1915-1998); poet-autobiographer-actress-filmmaker Maya Angelou (1928-2014); Pulitzer Prize-winning former Illinois Poet Laureate and novelist Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000); and ESL native daughter Barbara Ann Teer (1937-2008), founder of the National Black Theatre of Harlem.
June 17, 2017 will mark the centennial of the birth of Brooks. She and Walker Alexander, whose centennial was observed in 2015, are often associated with the Harlem Renaissance.
EBR Writers Club History
Founded in 1986, the Writers Club turned 30 in 2016. Writer Henry Lee Dumas (a.k.a. Henry Dumas, 1934-1968), for whom Eugene B. Redmond has served as literary executor for the past 48 years, is the Club's patron saint.
Members of its Soular Systems Ensemble—Roscoe “Ros” Crenshaw, Salim Kenyatta, Charlois Lumpkin (Mali Newman), Darlene Roy (Club prez), and Jaye Willis—will perform “kwansabas” in honor of the trustees. The program will also feature special guests and an art/photo exhibit.
Current Club trustees include: Avery Brooks, Haki R. Madhubuti, Walter Mosley, Quincy Troupe, and Jerry W. Ward, Jr. Among other deceased trustees are: Amiri Baraka (1934-2014) and Raymond R. Patterson (1929-2002).
In addition to having appeared here as guests of the Club, trustees also served on the editorial board of Drumvoices Revue, a literary-cultural journal formerly co-published by the Club and SIUE's English Department.
Creation of the Kwansaba
One of the Club's signature inventions is the “kwansaba,” a poem of “sevens”--seven lines, seven words per line, with each word having no more than seven letters. Exceptions to the seven-letter rule are foreign terms, proper nouns and quoted words or passages.
Of the trustees, Dr. Weathers and Dr. Ward have written kwansabas. Others have been the subject of special issues of Drumvoices where they were honored with kwansabas.
Hundreds of examples of the form appear in Drumvoices and dozens of other publications. In the past couple of years alone, three volumes of poetry--by Tara Betts, Treasure Shields Redmond, and Darlene Roy—have been devoted wholly or in part to the kwansaba.
For information about the March 21 program or the Club: call 618 650-3991; write EBR Writers Club at P.O. Box 6165, ESL, IL 62201; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Press Release courtesy of EBR Writers Group