Blackberries have multiple meanings across religious, ethnic and mythological realms. They have been used in Christian art to symbolize spiritual neglect or ignorance. Blackberries originally grew wild in fields, on hillsides and along woodland edges. Unmanaged and untended, the trailing vines wrapped themselves around whatever they came into contact with as well as with one another, often creating impenetrable thickets that made most of the fruit hard to get at. At best, only the berries growing on the outermost vines could be harvested and the rest were left to rot or serve as food for whatever wild creature was able to get at them.
America's Reconstruction :the Untold Story is much like blackberries.
“Reconstruction is known for the federal government’s attempts to grant equal rights to former slaves as well as the political leadership of African-Americans in the former Confederate States,” says Dr. Morris. “Reconstruction actually began in Beaufort County in 1861, the first year of the war, and, though the era fell short of many Americans’ expectations, it laid much of the groundwork for the ‘Second Reconstruction,’ or the Civil Rights Movement, of the 20th century.”
On November 7, 1861 (long remembered by former slaves as the “day of the big gun-shoot”), just months after the fall of Fort Sumter, the Union Navy recaptured Port Royal, South Carolina. This prompted the panic and mass exodus of the region’s plantation owners, who left behind thousands of their slaves. This provided an opportunity for a dress rehearsal of sorts for Reconstruction known as the “Port Royal Experiment.” Northern strategists saw the newly freed people of the Sea Islands as an ideal test group for experiments in education, citizenship, and land ownership for potential implementation after the war. The experience there prepared participants and observers for the more widespread, future implementation of truly revolutionary changes in education policy, civil rights, and democracy, and importantly showed that these policies could succeed in longer-range plans for the reconstruction of the South once the war could be brought to an end. Sandwiched as it is between the dramas of the Civil War and the Jim Crow era, Reconstruction suffers as one of the most understudied and misunderstood periods in American history.
Part of this misunderstanding is due to the history’s complexity—scholars’ interpretations of the period have ranged from 12 years of abject failure where unprepared, vengeful, and corrupt former slaves nearly ruined the South and a period of excessive punishment of the defeated former Confederacy by the victorious North, or, alternatively, as a bright age of hope that ultimately failed, but only insofar as it did not go far enough or achieve its lofty goals. Recently, scholars have agreed with W.E.B. Dubois’ conclusion in his 1913 study Black Reconstruction in America that its overthrow was a tragedy, a “splendid failure,” whose revolutionary agenda could not overcome the overwhelming forces set against it. http://www.uscb.edu/americasreconstruction/
The first night of the Reconstruction Institute at USCB, this tall regal stature of a man, Dr. Emory Campbell, came to the podium to speak. He began to tell a story of the gullah people who were being used for this experimental time of America's Reconstruction. He spoke of the children of Historic Penn School, one of the first school for blacks in the South, and how they would ever so often just leave class and go pick blackberries. When I heard that story my painting "Pickin' Blackberries' came to mind.
I then asked the Lord, "Does this little girl picking blackberries represent the spiritual neglect and ignorance of Recontruction? Does she understand that she was, at that very moment, going through a bright age of hope?'
He simply answered, "She represents that you are where you're supposed to be, at the moment you're supposed to be in time, doing exactly what I created you to do, painting what I'm inspiring you to paint. "
'According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.'-Ephesians 1:4-5
Artist Sonja Griffin Evans
"Art Speaks." Travel Blog