Perhaps it was the comprehensive blend of craft and formal art technique that grabbed me. Perhaps it was the subject of women and their influences on Pinchback that fascinated me and drew me into her work. Perhaps it was the optical sweet imagery charged with the introspective that insisted I take note. Either way I thought the show was informed with the right dose of visual language and “da art of storytellin’ to the point that I sensed a new sense of understanding with each approach to the walls of the museum. Some works spoke to the presence and the positioning between physical and spiritual space. Some works spoke to the importance of image while returning the figurative gaze upon and beyond the viewer, posing questions regarding the sense of self; self-determination, self doubt, and self awareness.
The exhibition was at the University Museum on the campus of Texas Southern University. I think the space and exhibition was fitting, considering one of John Biggers’ main themes in his work was about women’s humanity. I also think the museum should be called “The Biggers Museum” but you know that’s another story for another time. Speaking of stories and inspiration, one can always use a motivational quote in their life from someone who has lived the life and ” been through.” I mean someone who has been through it, lived through it, and was through with it. “It” being the good and the bull crap they’ve experienced. Their experience becomes our textbook guide to life. The ones, who write the textbook in this context, are the ones who fly and soar. They are the truth. They are not the ones who practice historical revisionism and for example, relabel those enslaved from Africa as “immigrant workers.” We the viewers, if we are paying attention and do it right, earn our own wings, fly higher, and repeat by seeking the truth. I left the museum hovering above Third Ward, Houston wearing a jet set back pack, the wings of Gabriel, and an extra long beach towel tied around my neck painted red, black, and green mimicking a super man with an extra dark tan, ready for the world. I was reminded of my sense of self and reassured of my concept of origin and experience.
“Anyone can fly. All you need is somewhere to go that you can’t get to any other way. The next thing you know, you’re flying among the stars. – Faith Ringgold
“All of our waste which we dumped on her and which she absorbed. And all of our beauty, which was hers first and which she gave to us. All of us–all who knew her–felt so wholesome after we cleaned ourselves on her. We were so beautiful when we stood astride her ugliness. Her simplicity decorated us, her guilt sanctified us, her pain made us glow with health, her awkwardness made us think we has a sense of humor. Her inarticulateness made us believe we were eloquent. Her poverty kept us generous. Even her waking dreams we used–to silence our own nightmares. And she let us, and thereby deserved our contempt. We honed our egos on her, padded our characters with her frailty, and yawned in the fantasy of our strength.” – Toni Morrison
“To acknowledge our ancestors means we are aware that we did not make ourselves, that the line stretches all the way back, perhaps to God; or to Gods. We remember them because it is an easy thing to forget: that we are not the first to suffer, rebel, fight, love and die. The grace with which we embrace life, in spite of the pain, the sorrow, is always a measure of what has gone before. ” – Alice Walker
“Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations. If you adopt their attitudes, then the possibility won’t exist because you’ll have already shut it out…You can hear other people’s wisdom, but you’ve got to re-evaluate the world for yourself.” – Mae Jemison
“If the society today allows wrongs to go unchallenged, the impression is created that those wrongs have the approval of the majority.’ – Barbara Jordan
“Birds flying high you know how I feel
Sunin the sky you know how I feel
Breeze driftin’ on by you know how I feel
And this old world is a new world
And a bold world
And I’m feeling good
“Feeling Good” – Nina Simone
“ I wanted to show the history and strength of all kinds of black women. Working women, country women, urban women, great women in the history of the United States.” – Elizabeth Catlett
I leave you love. I leave you hope. I leave you the challenge of developing confidence in one another. I leave you a thirst for education. I leave you a respect for the use of power. I leave you faith. I leave you racial dignity. I leave you a desire to live harmoniously with your fellow men. I leave you finally, a responsibility to our young people.” – Mary McCloud Bethune
“I am not tragically colored. There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes. I do not mind at all. I do not belong to the sobbing school of Negrohood who hold that nature somehow has given them a lowdown dirty deal and whose feelings are all hurt about it. Even in the helter-skelter skirmish that is my life, I have seen that the world is to the strong regardless of a little pigmentation more or less. No, I do not weep at the world—I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.” – Zora Neal Hurston
There seem to be solid biological reasons why we are the way we are. If there weren’t, the cycles wouldn’t keep replaying. The human species is a kind of animal, of course. But we can do something no other animal species has ever had the option to do. We can choose: We can go on building and destroying until we either destroy ourselves or destroy the ability of our world to sustain us. Or we can make” – Octavia Butler
Nathaniel Donnett is an interdisciplinary artist from Houston, Texas who is interested in human behavior and psycho-social concerns. Donnett is currently working out his “Dark Imaginarence” concept/manifesto soul theory, and is also the founder of “Not That But This.” You can find him at www.nathanieldonnett.com, https://twitter.com/artistik, and on facebook.