Roy DeCarava

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Sherry Turner DeCarava

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Book Signing

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Book Signing

 

Did you ever meet someone you clicked with right before moving on to another dimension in life?

This is what happened to me before I graduated Fordham. I met wonderful artist and professors at the other campus- Lincoln Center. I met my mentor, who still mentors me and Joe who never fails to invite me to the dark room…I miss those days.

I also met a lot of my ancestors and professional artist through them.

Somehow, I’ve stayed in contact with them and them with me. So, when shows or opportunities arrises, we are in the loop.

Back in October of last year, Casey texted me to check out Roy DeCarava at Zwirner and I told her I’ll go. I did finally go. It was the last day and it was packed. I ran into Terrance and  met some of his buddies. I was told Mrs. DeCarava was there- which it was a honor to meet her and while standing in line, I was excited to see my Professor, Joe.

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At the Zwirner viewing Roy DeCarava, ran into Joe! 

Somehow I learned about photographer, Roy DeCarava, a month before he died. It was really awkward. I was in the computer lab looking for someone to write about and his story stood out to me. I remember typing his name into google to see if he was still alive and he had just died a month before, that October. Well, he’s another legend I can’t meet I remember thinking. Just like Gordon Parks.

He was born in 1919, in New York where he lived and started his career.  He came from a single parent home. His mother had migrated from Jamaica and placed her son into the programs in the neighborhood. He was a first black in some areas, like the first to integrate the New York City Textile High School and the first to win the Guggenheim Fellowship.

Gordon Parks was and still is my favorite photographer but what I enjoyed when reading  about DeCarava was how real and close to home his struggle was. Firstly, he grew up in New York and experienced segregation. New York isn’t in the south! However, he was the first to integrate his high school! His story speaks to the real New York and how it is- even now!

Secondly, in the late 1940’s, his subject was Harlem. And, he showed Harlem as he saw it. His work is raw and gritty. As he said, ‘[I aimed for] a creative expression, the kind of penetration insight and understanding of Negroes which I believe only a Negro photographer can interpret.” Looking at his images, you are drawn into a world of segregated Harlem, where only Blacks dwelt. A Harlem where children are happy despite poverty and adults are struggling to create a better life.

His photo titled ‘Graduation’ shows a young girl in a white dress surrounded by rubbish. It shows the fluidness of the life his subjects were living; the ability to switch into wanting to live the American dream and at the same time seeing the reality of living as a black person in America.

Needless to say, I was very grateful that day to run into his wife, Sherry Turner DeCarava. I may not have met Roy DeCarava but it was a blessing to meet someone who worked along side of him. And it just so happens that not only did I meet his wife but I learned that my professor, Joe, also worked with Mr. DeCarava.

Quincy Jones & Those in the Music Room

IMG_1115The younger children did not go everywhere on Campus but one place I let them explore was the Music Room. With names like Quincy Jones, Melody, and Dominic, I had to bring them around the piano and drums.

When we got there, they fell right into their zone. While Quincy Jones was playing the drums the rest of them were banging keys on the  baby grand.

Then they switched.

When I told them it was time to go, they all placed fingers over their mouths, and creeped out of the music room in one straight line.

Then, Dominic stopped and said,  wait, where are the teachers?

Shhh! We can’t disturb the students, another one whispered back!!

Meanwhile, they all looked at me with curious eyes, beginning to wonder about the same thing. I kept my eyes straight and crept them back outside. To which they forgot to ask for the the teachers again.

Mary Mitchell at Fordham University

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Here we are! We are sitting on the steps where I  was given my college diploma a couple of years ago.

Almost the entire after school program, staff and children, left the center to tour Fordham’s lovely campus. The children were E-C-S-T-A-T-I-C.

The older children wanted to know if it was going to be a fun trip and the young kids just wanted to play. I was worried something crazy was going to happen but when we got there, everything worked out for the good.

Two Fordham students (and Mary Mitchell volunteers), Erin and Nia, met us at the main gate.  We split the children into groups by age.

They trekked all over campus. The pool, the library, the church, the cafe, the music room, the basketball court, the baseball field, Eddie’s parade, and finally the dorms.

Every where they went, they were mesmerized by the college life. The students, the band practicing, the ‘big buff guy playing frisbee’ , ‘the girl with the Pumas’, the art on the wall, the grass and trees, the flags, the banners, the lights, the long hallways, the water fountains, the kitchen area, even the bushes.

And, Fordham’s lovely students embraced them.

The older kids walked away saying, I played frisbee with the college students!! The girls are nice, they taught me how to do splits and flips!!

The younger kids walked away saying, I was a whale on the lawn and got to gobble up everything then, I went into the castle and drank water from the water fountain!

I walked away simply exhausted.

At the end of the trip, everyone declared that they wanted to go to college.  Even staff wanted to attend Fordham.

Museum Hopping with Stacy

A note to Stacy after our day at the Museum of Natural History and the Met Breuer.

Stacy; billows, the Big Bang, Bears and beautiful memories from today are now apart of our friendship.

Even though we started out late (my fault, sorry!) It turned out to be worth the trips. it was funny too see you excited in the museum of natural history. (Girl, science does not make me excited!! lol.. yawn.  You must admit we had more fun looking at photos by Diane Arbus).

Stacy, I must say we learned a lot of new terms. I quizzed a guy friend who calls himself a scientist, yesterday! I asked him how many types of mammals there were and he couldn’t answer me (of course we know from the exhibit that there are dos!).

I am able to define the term ‘bellows’ to my young siblings, a term we always hear in church.

Nonetheless, guess what? No matter how i try to remember, I can’t remember the name of that animal that eat porcupines (help!).

I do remember the moose story though and our convocation after reading about how they battle till death to get a cow. What a funny story you told about the pigeons!

But your story about lime and apple green skittles took the cake! Girl, you are crazy!

Can’t wait to do it again!!!!!

 

A trip to the MoMA

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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/

Nicole & Them

Nicole & Them

 

Mary Mitchell Children taking a bite-break after playing and having the best time of the lives.

Notice how most of them are boys. I only have 2 girls in my class this year.