Thursday, June 11, 2009

Marissa's Latest: Miz Lucille

Her name is Miz Lucille, and she's the first in a series of outdoor pieces I'm creating. The cutout is watercolor and gouache on paper, and the train is yarn and ribbons. It was made to hang from a tree, and is part of some work I've been doing for the past few years around healing images of Blacks being lynched. It's a part of our history, and I can remember seeing these disturbing images repeatedly from a very young age, in documentaries, posters sold up in Harlem, or history books.
I felt many intense emotions when seeing an image of a lynched person, one of the main ones being helplessness. There was nothing I could do. This person had been murdered in cold blood and ripped away from their family decades ago. For years, I've been collecting these images and finding different ways to view them (Considering who this person was before their death, the beauty of the scenery in these photographs, the time of day the incident occurs), and now I'm finding new ways to recreate them. Miz Lucille represents a different kind of "strange fruit": she hangs from a tree, but is very much alive and in vibrant color. I wanted this image of a Black person hanging from a tree to project happiness. I wanted her to represent not the ugliness of that moment, but the beautiful spirit that left that lynched person's body and is at peace, watching over us.
My plan is to make a whole set of these figures, and do outdoor installations where trees are filled with them.