2021 seemed a significant year for the Carver Museum's education department to offer an art course inviting community members to create images that reflect thoughts and experiences during this past year. The variety of work that was created during this class spans experiences from living alone during COVID to social justice issues surrounding race and gender.
Artists: Holly Charles-Pearson, Stephanie Lozano, Faith Weaver, Frances Cava Humphrey.
Course taught by Nicole Parker, Culture and Arts Instructor, CarverMuseumATX.
Please click on an image to view separately.
The Flock Could Not Be Weak
90's Hip Hop anthem The Choice is Yours inspired this series' title with the rambunctious party lyrics, "Even if we wanted to, the flock could not be weak". The group's name (Black Sheep), the song's title and its 1991 release were eerily relevant to the premise of this body of work. In 1991, while Black America was bopping happily to The Choice is Yours, it was also reeling from the video footage of Rodney King being beaten nearly to death by LAPD. The subsequent Rodney King Trial and its devastating outcome were proof of this country's disease - racial bias and discrimination.
30 years later, America suffers the same affliction. And, the song's intro, echoing "this or that, this or that, this or that" still haunts the African American man. The photos in this series are placed side by side to highlight how one man can be seen as (this) a healer or (that) a hoodlum, (this) a keeper of one's safety or (that) a threat to it. The series juxtaposes who the subject is and who he is proposed to be, all while expressing the danger of presumption. The constant judgement and misconception of Black men keeps them atop the ancient auction blocks at Jamestown, while strangers continue to decide their value and their fate. Even if they wanted to, the flock could not be weak.
This collection of photographs was assembled from personal family experiences and extraordinary moments of reflection within and throughout the one year of the COVID-19 pandemic and how it affected our community. I think we will look back upon these moments and remember just when we knew that life as we know it was changing. Familiar places suddenly ceased to be, children and families ceased to play, as our lives were overcome with looming fears of health, death, and darkness.
Families and communities have experienced a profound change, sacrifice, and awareness that has left a mark upon all of us. Still, among the feeling of isolation, separation, and despair, was the quiet, everlasting knowledge and confidence that hope is always around the corner.
I am Educator Coordinator at the Carver and facilitated our former Smile b&w photography class for years. This is my first-time being a part of a photography class at the Carver! It’s kind of fitting that all of my photo selections are in black and white. They feature my Amber kitty in my work-from-home environment, flowers I gifted myself (I love roses), and pictures that I captured on my drives that have become outings, especially during this time. I hope you enjoy them.
FRANCES CAVA HUMPHREY
Through this class and this project, I wanted to try to tell a personal story of my quarantine and isolation, as well as my reactions to anti-Asian violence that has recently been widely talked about, but I know too well. Everyone has their own coping mechanisms for dealing with the monotony of quarantine, mine being any form of escapism and daydreaming. Taking road trips and imagining myself in different dreamlike landscapes made feeling alone feel exciting and refreshing – and I wanted to create the landscapes I dreamed up in my photos. I also wanted to make photos that told a story of my identity, amongst the violence and hatred being cast upon many Asian Americans, especially right now. This sentiment was not new to me, though, and I wanted to show that in two of my collages. The disappearance of fully-fleshed figures into landscapes or jungles – like an identity being reduced to only one feature, or completely overlooked and tokenized. Even though my photos have different contexts, they all come together as surreal, pieced together images.