". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Looking for Clementine Hunter’s Louisiana

Clementine Hunter (late December 1886 or early January 1887 – January 1, 1988) was a self-taught African American folk artist from the Cane River region in Louisiana. More to the point of our national culture and arts, she was just one of those who, of the first and second generations of African Americans not born into the rule of the institutions and economy of slavery and slave trade, contributed to that incredible explosion of expression that created what has been named 'the Modern,' and -- as well, due to the Modern -- the American Century.*

Part of what makes Hunter personally interesting is that she was born and spent her life in the part of Louisiana where el V spent his idyllic childhood -- where he received his first lessons in 'race.'

Another part of what I personally love about her paintings is how deeply into African American culture and spirituality -- as well as humor -- can read from her paintings.

The New York Times has a long feature on Hunter and her gorgeous art, and he context out of which it came.  It's well worth reading for people who love painting, history and color.


* Has ever an empire had such a short reign of dominance of arts and culture? Though, arguably, rap and blockbuster Hollywood still rule the pop culture realms.  Perhaps.  This seems to be in rather rapid decline though, as the Asian nations explode with their own filmic expressions and industry.

Is it a coincidence that our cultural decline coincides with the neo-Jim Crow of the prison-surveillance-corporate complex, and how much of it is built upon the backs of the African American communities?  Not to mention women, who are the foundation of all communities ....

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