In December of 2015 I blogged about the painting 'Amazing Grace'. This piece was created in Beaufort, South Carolina in the courtyard of the Beaufort Arsenal Museum and Visitor's Center. The brick and tabby museum once represented a headquarters of secession activity in Beaufort before the Civil War. The Revolutionary-era arsenal was seized by Union soldiers in 1861, nine years after it had been rebuilt. 'Amazing Grace' tells a story about New Year's Eve of the Emancipation Proclamation,'Watch Night'' in Beaufort, South Carolina. December 31, 1862, was a very special evening for the enslaved Africans. It was the night before the Emancipation Proclamation took effect, freeing all the slaves in the Confederate states. I then realized she was carrying her child, wrapped in a quilt, to the Praise House; small places of worship built on plantations during slavery.
I painted Amazing Grace on an old steel drum top, a circle. The Circle is a fairly universal symbol among world religions, though the context may change. It is seen to represent the sun, the moon, the door through which we all were born, and the human eye. Since it has no beginning or end, it easily represents God's love; birth, the Alpha and Omega; eternity, that which has neither beginning nor end. On the quilt I was inspired to paint many patterns; patterns and symbols associated with the Underground Railroad Secret Quilt Code. Also painted on the quilt, is a piece of the Confederate Flag, representing her soon to be past and the blood, sweat and tears shed; which she and others endured during slavery and oppression. Spilling over the edge of the old steel drum top is the United States Flag; representing freedom for all. One Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. The quilt futher represents her hopes, dreams and prayers, not only for her child and herself, but for generations to come. In the distance is the symbol of the palmetto; signifying good, and the cresent moon; signifying things are moving forward and that there is the hope of more to come. The three birds are representative of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. The look in the woman's eyes is one of hopefulness yet sorrow, joy and pain. Most of all, her eyes reflect her desires to be free and for the freedom of all of her future generations.
I blogged about the overwhelming emotions that filled my eyes as the Confederate Flag was removed after the murder of nine innocent African Americans at Mother Emanuel church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015. Although not nearly as emotionally moving as it may have been for the woman in the painting 'Amazing Grace' on New Year's Eve in 1862, after being enslaved most of her life and witnessing and experiencing the suffering, torture and killing of so many, I understood and experienced just a glimpse of her emotions.
New Year's Eve of 2016 was the first time in my generation that the Confederate flag; which represented slavery and oppression to her, was not flying over the Capitol of South Carolina. It was put up 54 years ago to protest the Civil Rights Movement and was never removed until 2015.
"Our Actions are usually a reflection of what’s inside."