Dr. Dawn E Langley, Fulbright specialist, has said that African-American art represents historic treatment they were subjected to while in the US and Native American Art is closely tied with nature, as their art comprises items they used in daily life.
Dr. Langley was talking on ‘Writing Creatively: Red Americana, Black Americana’ organised by the Area Study Centre, Quaid-i-Azam University, here on Wednesday. Dr. Rukhsana Qamber, director of the centre, conducted the proceedings.
Dr. Langley said that in the US, it began with Flea Markets and antique shops and writing of features, auctions and cultural shows coverage. She said Black Americana started with slavery items, which were first to appear. Slaves were auctioned to work in fields in difficult conditions. How much negative the Whites were, she stressed by showing glimpses of slaves in chains. She said that slaves themselves started writing, but if caught doing it or the artefacts were discovered, owners punished them, even whipped and killed. “So Blacks wrote the narratives secretly,” she added.
Dr. Langley said that after bringing from Africa, the slaves were uploaded on the American coast and being from different nationalities, they could not talk to each other. “It was ensured that members of the same family are split and sent to different places so that they could never meet in future. Hence they did not know about their relatives. Americans in North never knew such things and regarded took it as a real brutality. Sometimes, scenes of their ordeal were embossed in ironwork to be used say for balconies. Grotesque jugs, paintings of that era are now historic artefacts,” she added.
She said that pre — and post-Civil War (1850s) periods reflect the situation of the era. Stories were woven in stitches, wooden puppets, kitchen items etc. She said that Civil War had its impact and now slaves were free, but without voting right and education was still denied to them and they got some education clandestinely. She discussed creations of Thomas Day, Harriet Powers, Edmonia Lewis and Henry Osawa tanner etc.
She said that Harlem Renaissance of early 20th Century had been a period of flourishing creativity and Langston Hughes, Romare Bearden, Lois Mailou Jones and Josephine Baker etc had contribution for African Americans (Blacks).
Dr. Langley also discussed different tribes of African Americans like Cherokee tribe living in Florida, who were forced to live at specific places also and they were forced to walk sometimes barefooted thousands of miles away and many women and children died in the process. She said Apache tribe living in southeastern states had to face a similar fate. Their art can be seen in shoes, wooden pieces and birds were a common feature whose feathers made part of their dress. Archie Blackowl, RC Gorman, Alyssa Hinton had contributed in artwork, while Cliff Fragua was a known sculptor. She said that pieces of jewellery, pottery, clothing, leather, ‘kachinas’, blankets and rugs and beadwork also had inscriptions representing their life, work and culture.
Dr. Qamber said that understanding the US through its art is a healthy tread that is used in the American Studies programme at QAU.
In the question hour, students pointed out similarity in quilts, stray pots etc in the cultures narrated by the speaker and those found in Africa, even in ancient artefacts discovered in Pakistan.
Rasheed KhalidThursday, November 11, 2010