Note from Alawni

My students send me messages any time of day.

Sometimes they want to know what I’m doing or they are wishing me a happy birthday or they are sending me gifs.

Today when I open the learning platform, I read this message:

[1/23 7:31 PM] dear ms.hurley u are the greatest teacher i have ever met u are so nice and kind u take your time for us student u deserve something very very special place and a long vacation but i dont have a place but hear are some ideas california hawai  vermont virgina washington d.c

Standing with Brick House

Simone Leigh presents Brick House, a 16-foot-tall bronze bust of a Black woman with a torso that combines the forms of a skirt and a clay house. The sculpture’s head is crowned with an afro framed by cornrow braids, each ending in a cowrie shell. Brick House is the inaugural commission for the High Line Plinth, a new landmark destination for major public artworks in New York City. This is the first monumental sculpture in Leigh’s Anatomy of Architecture series, an ongoing body of work in which the artist combines architectural forms from regions as varied as West Africa and the Southern United States with the human body. The title comes from the term for a strong Black woman who stands with the strength, endurance, and integrity of a house made of bricks.

(taken from: https://www.thehighline.org/art/projects/simoneleigh/)

Laurel

Simone Leigh presents Brick House, a 16-foot-tall bronze bust of a Black woman with a torso that combines the forms of a skirt and a clay house. The sculpture’s head is crowned with an afro framed by cornrow braids, each ending in a cowrie shell. Brick House is the inaugural commission for the High Line Plinth, a new landmark destination for major public artworks in New York City. This is the first monumental sculpture in Leigh’s Anatomy of Architecture series, an ongoing body of work in which the artist combines architectural forms from regions as varied as West Africa and the Southern United States with the human body. The title comes from the term for a strong Black woman who stands with the strength, endurance, and integrity of a house made of bricks.

(taken from www.https://www.thehighline.org/art/projects/simoneleigh/)

Two Celebrations

Laurel and I at Slag Gallery (in front of her piece)

First and foremost, CONGRATULATIONS to my close friend, Laurel, who had her first art show at Slag Gallery.

She spent most of her COVID-19 down time prepping for a show she wasn’t sure was ever going to take place. By the time invitations came out for the opening ceremony, things were picking back up and it was impossible for me to make it to the show.

I ended up going to Slag a day before my birthday- which made it a double celebration.

The show has been taken down by now, ( I’ve been too busy to blog lately…sorry) however, I wanted to write a little about Laurel’s piece.

Laurel’s work was a part of a group exhibition curated by Sophie Olympia Riese titled This is Not Enough. All of the artist, women:  LaTonia Allen, Ranee Henderson, Laurel Richardson, and Paige Twyman.

As the synopsis stated, These four painters explore[d] themes of self-determination, history, ancestry, social construction, and aspiration in their works, examining perception and expectation while developing a visual narrative that pave[d] a path towards the futures they see for themselves.

If I could pick a theme, Laurel’s Heart of Light in particular focused mainly on social construction. She used dye, acrylic, canvas and pins to address the role of the Queen Mother in an African village which in turn addressed the role of the mother in the African American community.

The Queen Mother is like the queen bee, it’s simply in charge. Its respected and reverenced. Her job is to keep the children safe from those who seek to destroy them.

As I continued to examine the canvas, I found faces of children hidden and woven in the cloth. From afar I couldn’t see the faces, but as I got closer, I saw the faces, boys in particular starring back at me.

For us, this piece, opened up conversation about black boys in our communities, single mothers, and police brutality.

The materials Laurel used opened up a discussion about Chicago where Laurel is from originally and her family. To construct her art work she looked at patterns and used cloth from her grandmother who is a seamstress.

After viewing the art in Slag and examining the nearby galleries we walked to the High Line Plinth at 30th St. and 10th Ave. where we took photos in front of Simone Leigh’s (another Chicago native) Brick House.

We spent the entire day in the village appreciating art and we ended our day at Worthwild, a bar-restaurant at 156 9th ave. We froze our butts off dinning on the outside, which was crazy and fun at the same time.

Laurel and I at Worthwild

Towards the end of the night, Laurel surprised me with a pumpkin cupcake. She and the kind waiter sang happy birthday and the wind blew the candle out for me.