“Never Forget Where You Come From!” This saying from my upbringing carries on our history as African American Southerners, reminding us of where we come from no matter where life takes us. I am dedicating Darkened Roots to my grandparents, in an effort to keep their stories alive.
Growing up as an African American in the south came with an understanding that our history is rich and sacred. The late Dr. Maya Angelou once said, “You can’t really know where you are going until you know where you have been.” This sentiment holds so much truth with respect to our stories, history, and ultimately, our legacy. The imagery I use throughout my work documents our everyday life in rural Arkansas, bringing my roots from the Southeast to the Southwest. The pieces on the wall integrate imagery and stories with my own documentation of significant sites of African American history placed in plexiglass to give reference of a retro photo album with film sheets covering the photos.
I was taught at a very early age that hard work pays off. As a medium, wood has a rich history in rural Arkansas for being the main material for most products and representing hard work and craftsmanship. Displaying the matrix alongside the impression references their roots, as well as the labor intensive process of printmaking and the work of my hands. Black ink on black paper symbolizes perceptions of the African American community. For good or bad, the community needs to be viewed from all angles; simply approaching it head on makes it difficult to comprehend, at first glance. After viewing for a while, the dark image seems to vanish. In a way, this is a cryptic example of how African American history is slowly being diminished or fading into nonexistence. Our ancestors, who came from royalty, were brought over and repeatedly dehumanized. Over time, that royal legacy has been long forgotten and ignored. I have taken it as a personal challenge to not only preserve my history, but also utilize my talents in an effort to educate the masses.
This is my bloodline.
This is where I come from.
These are my Darkened Roots.
- Jonathan Wright
Artist's reception: Friday, November 22, 2019 | 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Artist's talk: Saturday, November 23, 2019 | 2:00 pm