Wednesday, February 16, 2011

follow the drinking gourd

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.
Harriet Tubman (1820 -1913) abolitionist, humanitarian,
major figure for the underground railroad

wall wednesday continues!

today's wall features a mural done by local artist and high school art teacher jerome white. last september I had a sneak preview of the mural at the cma art festival, where I also had the good fortune to have a nice chat with the artist.

according to jerome, the mural is doubly dedicated: first to the struggle, the endurance, and the 'hope and faith' of enslaved african-americans; and secondly to the role cleveland-area abolitionists played in the era of the underground railroad.

cleveland was a place that slaves and fugitive slaves aspired to reach with hopes of gaining freedom. cleveland's code name in the days of the underground railroad was 'hope' and it was often the final destination before making the trip into st. catharine's canada - who's code name was 'glory'.

the work depicts a young boy sitting on the front of a motionless train, contemplating his next move - he is looking up as the geese overhead are flying north. the boy has arrived at the last station and at a new beginning where he aspires to find his higher purpose in life rather than be physically, mentally, or spiritually enslaved. the geese symbolize direction and spiritual freedom.

this mural is located on e. 105th and superior avenue. the mural is part of a public arts project sponsored by the cleveland museum of art and the cleveland foundation.

richie havens singing the traditional song follow the drinking gourd. this excellent vid is accompanied by a photo montage using images from graue mill (a stop on the underground railroad), gettysburg and other civil era locations/photos. the video was created by david scott crawford.

photos: top - 4 february, 2011; second photo - september 2010


Meri said...

Fabulous mural -- great story -- and wonderful way to commemorate Black History Month.

Lorenzo — Alchemist's Pillow said...

Wonderful post, Kimy. Thanks for this. I hadn't heard this song in years (gulp! — make that decades).

Betsy Brock said...

Very cool mural! I have a friend that lives here in the village whose home was used in the Underground Railroad!

Tess Kincaid said...

The code names of "hope" and "glory" give me chills. Fabulous mural. Inspiring post, Kim.

Watson said...

This all brought tears to me. Imagine how people felt - torn away from their families, home, Country and transported to be sold as a slave. What courage they had even to survive. I wish it was finished, but slavery seems to continue in other places and ways today. May all find freedom, peace and dignity.

Alan Burnett said...

I really like this interpretation of "public art" which takes art into the community and provides something that is visually pleasing and meaningful as well.

Margaret said...

Beautiful mural, and haunting photograph of how it integrates with its setting. Slavery per se may be gone, but misery for many many Blacks is still here - more than 2 million in prisons. Then there the ghettos, poverty, inferior educational system, not much economic opportunity. I once went into a grocery store in a Black neighborhood. The food choices were horrible, and the prices high.