I have collected "stuff" that most people would consider junk for as long as I can remember. In high school, I made art from my prized collection of broken glass, bottle tops, vintage post cards, scraps of yarn, and reclaimed wood. In college, I learned that the artwork I was doing had a name: “assemblage,” which literally translates into “putting together.” I love that the definition of the kind of art that I make means “assembling,” as my life’s purpose is to bring people together through healing and forgiveness.
This particular body of work is an attempt to remind us of our glorious leaders in the dangerous and heroic effort to abolish slavery in America. As we get further away in time from the reality of that particular kind of slavery, we tend to forget the evil that it bred, and we can also forget that as a country, we survived that dark period because of freedom fighters who gave their every fiber to end such a dehumanizing and violent practice.
Yes, there is still racism, and modern-day forms of slavery continue in this great but imperfect country. I create this artwork to remind all of us that we can accomplish anything we set our minds to if we band together and work for justice and liberty for ALL.
The stories of these incredible freedom fighters, and how their work impacted each other’s work, is both inspiring and humbling. My children sometimes observed me weeping as I did the work. Deep gratitude filled and continues to fill my heart. The more I learned about these incredible people, who were just ordinary individuals like you and me, and who not only risked their own lives but the lives of their loved ones to make sure that the promise of America could be for everyone, the more I was inspired, and have remain determined, to continue their still-needed work myself.
The profound sacrifice and bravery, of these visionaries is nothing less than astounding. Each of the individuals represented here became stronger as a result of their friendships, despite heated debates and arguments, and are to be commended for their tenacity and patience both with each other, and with the American government, which took decades to "get the job done." I do this work in order to reconcile my agony over the painstakingly slow progress we have made as a country since the Civil War.
I derive deep fortitude and nourishment as a freedom fighter myself from studying the lives of these abolitionists who devoted their lives to their work. I’m absolutely blown away by the depth, passion, and heroic behavior of each of these people. I hope they inspire you as much as they inspire me, because we need abolitionists today just as much as we did then.
Although I started this work in 2014, it seems even more poignant today, as our country has only become more polarized since then, and the need is greater for these kind of tales of rugged individuality combined with a fantastic willingness to work together.
Very briefly, one example of how these individuals influenced each other for the better can be found in the fact that it was a book by Angelina Grimke and Theodore Weld called “American Slavery As It Is” that helped to inspire Harriet Beecher Stowe to write her book, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin," which went on to be one of the most galvanizing forces in getting Northerners off of their armchairs and into the Civil War.
Another example of how these freedom fighters became stronger as a result of each other’s counsel can be found in Henry Highland Garnett’s speech, “A Call To Rebellion,” in which he pleaded with enslaved people to organize and rise up against their enslavers. This speech inspired John Brown to hatch his idea for attacking Harpers Ferry, which was another major galvanizing force in the North joining the cause of the Civil War.
There are countless tales of how each of these people influenced each other in big and small ways to get the horrific practice of slavery abolished, and I believe these stories can light a flame in our own hearts to band together today, to continue their heroic and needed efforts to unite our country, abolish all forms of slavery, and continue the work of antiracism, so that America can become what it was intended to be: the land of the free and the home of the brave. I believe that someday we can embody what we claim to embody: a place where EVERYONE can pursue “life, liberty, and happiness.” No one is too young or too old to join this fight for equality. I invite you to join us! I humbly thank you for your care. – Hope
COMMISSION A PIECE
You may commission a piece of of your choosing here.
I retain the right to not canonize an individual if I think they do not meet a minimum of my standards for such an honor.
Individuals I choose to honor cannot be hateful in any way toward individuals or groups of people.
They must not be racist, sexist, anti-LGBTQ+, have any ties to Neo Nazism or any other hate group.
They must be inspirational, brave, principled, and have devoted their lives in some way to uplifting the lives of other human beings.
Please contact me here for speaking engagements and installations, priced on a sliding scale.