The Harrington Gallery in Pleasanton, CA, brings in some amazing exhibits and the one I visited last night might be my favorite. Unfortunately, the exhibit closed last night; nothing like waiting until the 11th hour to see something that should not have been missed. Thankful I made it there.
Titled SOUL SEARCHING: The Spirit of Africa Expressed by Bay Area Contemporary Artists, this collection is stunning — full of pieces that grip your heart and compel your emotions. But one artist in the collection brought me to tears.
Alice Beasley is an artist who works with fabric. Her work left me speechless. I found myself frozen, first trying to take in the story — her story — and then examining the intricate details that stitch together the history of so many Americans.
I will not be able to do her work justice, but here are a few shots of a few of her pieces. I wish I could have photographed the way they tugged at my heart with gentle invitation. I cannot afford most of her work, although had it not already been purchased, here’s the one I would have splurged on. There is so much joy in this piece:
These are also singular pieces that celebrate Beasley’s family history by focusing on individual members:
But here’s a description of the piece that blew me away:
Here’s what I was able to capture of the triptych. Here’s the first “car” — stitched together with so much heartache:
Here’s the second “car” — more pain:
And finally, the third “car” where Beasley herself is staring back at history and recording it on her cell phone:
With all the echoes of Jim Crow pounding in certain corners of our country, maybe art is one of our most powerful tools to break down the walls, open up the conversations, find a meeting of our hearts and minds.
Art asks us to first observe — with our eyes and then with our hearts. It asks us to engage as much as we are able. It gives voice to those things we have no words for. Art asks each of us to be vulnerable to what we see, to experience something new, perhaps something uncomfortable. Maybe we all need to be a little more vulnerable — a little more open — a little more willing to listen, learn, and engage. Maybe, just maybe, we can stitch together something better for all of us.