I met up with my close friend and colleague, Kelly, before her and her family moved out of the city.
In 2009 when my friend went back home to Ecuador, she came back with something for me. She didn’t tell me what it was. I was surprised when I pulled out a wide brim hat.
I remember complaining to another friend that I got a hat that I was never, ever going to wear. I did not see the beauty in the hat and never wore it until, Heidi, my supervisor, assigned me garden duty for the summer. I finally got an opportunity to wear the hat.
It quickly drew compliments out of people. Strangers, family and friends a like. Most of all, the kids adored the hat saying it is the best hat I have in my collection.
The only thing I tell them is about my friend from Ecuador who has great taste.
In June my friend invited me to join her and her sisters at the MOMA. The following is my Journal Entry about the entire event:
I knew I wanted to see the Jacob Lawrence exhibition, One Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series and Other Visions of the Great Movement North. I went hoping they were just as eager to see it likewise.
I was happy to see Tasha and Toya, two close friends from Fordham. I’ve always felt closer to Tasha but I feel sometimes our friendship is elusive and fluid enough to always include Toya. Toya was very upset at me for arriving late and told me so in a kind but firm manner. I wanted to talk to Tasha alone about things going on in my life, but couldn’t and didn’t. Their younger sister and niece were there and Tasha was with them for most of the time while I stuck with Toya. We spoke about history and read each didactic together when we got to the third floor.
We all started out together and was so eager that we forgot to pick up a pamphlet. I went back to pick some up from the table and they waited for me to join them.
Naturally, I got lost. But getting lost in a crowed museum never fears me. On my way to find them, I came across thee noteworthy works of art:
One the second floor, there was a gallery titled: Sences for a New Heritage: Contemporary Art from the Collection. I thought they wandered in there and was still there when Tasha called me to say that they didn’t venture to far in that part because of Kara Walker’s Art which was too lascivious-looking for the younger girls. I said I’ll meet them but first observed Kara Walker and the adults around me faces of horror. I also met Doris Salcedo. I thought this Colombian artist deserved to have more art. I am not sure if more of her work was installed as I was in a ‘rush’, but of what I saw, I would want to see more. Salcedo’s art was in response to a Colombian war and the many people who went missing. She used surgical thread to sew in shoes that belonged to real victims of the war. She got the shoes from people who testified in court, I guess like grieving mothers and such. The shoes were worn and belonged only to females. It evoked thoughts of grieving and death into my mind. It also made me think really briefly of South Africa and the reconciliation project. Then I thought about something personal (which I am not going to include) and of what it may mean to lose a love one and more importantly (in the case of missing one shoe to a loved one) during a war. I don’t know if Salcedo made some pairs incomplete on purpose or if the families really gave her one shoe.
After meeting Saldedo for the first time, I looked for the escalator to the third floor. I made the wrong turn and ended up looking at one work of about 5 artists, the leading artist being Laura Kurgan. I don’t know why it meant so much- actually I do know why. My Dad’s side of the family is from Brooklyn and until this day, I have an uncle I never met, sitting behind bars. This small in art but huge in social justice piece showed a graph/ map of how many people in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn went to jail in 2003 and how much it cost the government- billions of dollars!
Finally, I met up with the Sisters who had moved on since. We viewed Jacob Lawrence together and it was a wonderful experience. Toya and I read each wall panel together. I never talked about the great migration and thought about it in depth until I met Jacob Lawrence. He made me think about my family and close friends who left the south for a better life. Like my mother and my father’s parents. I had very little idea of the great sacrifices that they made. I actually don’t know much about my family’s personal testimonies of why they moved north. I know my mother came because of Religion but I am not sure why my father’s parents came. I am not even sure where they came from before arriving in Brooklyn! However, this summer I will find out.
At the end of the exhibition, I went to the store and brought a post card of Jacob Lawrence’s painting titled: In the North the Negro had better educational facilities. It’s hanging on my wall. I look at it every day to remind me of where I came from and how far I have to go.
Website about the exhibit : http://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2015/onewayticket/