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HomeGround

- Art of the Pan-African Diaspora Cavin-Morris Gallery New York, New York


HomeGround -Art of the Pan-African DiasporaThe artists in this exhibition are all culture-bearers. I define culture-bearers as being those individuals who, through visionary experience or choice, have taken upon themselves the weight of carrying tradition personally, and manifesting it by various means for past generations, this generation, and to inspire the next generation to come. It isn’t a job; it isn’t an ideal commitment; it is an ancient calling. Cavin-Morris has had a deep and abiding interest in the artworks of Africa and the Pan-African diaspora, recognizing their core affect on all aspects of contemporary life. The very first exhibition Cavin-Morris organized was Haitian in content, and was presented just before the flawed but still magnificent and groundbreaking show, Black Folk Art, organized by the Corcoran Gallery in the early 1980’s. Other exhibitions followed, most notably the huge and still underappreciated Souls Grown Deep with its two unprecedented companion volumes illustrating the fullness of the yard show complex. But even these important shows Vincent Atherton and books only covered the mainland United States. Even then it was obvious to us, through reading Robert Farris Thompson and others, that there were deep and profound connections between makers of African-American art throughout this whole hemisphere. We saw art that had African reference points but that had evolved according to its own American spiritual and social necessities. We saw art that was still vital and being made today outside of the art-world mainstream. Yet because of its links with tradition and history it would be hard to label it as purely art brut or ‘outsider’ without a great deal of rethinking and qualifications.

Everald Brown

So it is a strange anomaly of art history that has kept research and curatorial interest in this work encapsulated by smaller piecemeal categories, rather than to illuminate the myriad important and obvious connections between them. In short, they have been categorized by colonial hegemonies rather than by the heterogeneity of their common roots.

All the slaves came from two major regions in Africa; the Western Atlantic Coast and the Central Kongo regions. From these fairly cohesive homegrounds came a remembered worldview that was restructured to become an American homeground providing an architecture of integrity for a displaced populace in North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean, each melded to and creolizing the folkways of the colonizers in addition to African social and moral codes of behavior. This cultural evolution is still in full evidence and still evolving today. The artists in this exhibition are united not only by history itself but also by the way they have chosen to visually manifest their individual relationships with that history.

Woody Joseph


Very little of this art was made for art’s sake. Much of it has a utilitarian purpose no matter how powerful its formalism might be. It can even be said that those few works that actually were made for sale were done so as to represent and proselytize the cultures of their makers. Others have written intensively on the phenomenon of the yard show; that symbolic manifestation of African-American homeground appearing in hundreds of yards and environments in this hemisphere. At its most intense a full yard show is the Rosetta stone of the concerns and ethos of the Diaspora. At its least intense it is still abstractly symbolic of these same concerns. Aspects of it run through the production of every vernacular African-American artist. Grey Gundaker, from whom I have borrowed and, indeed, creolized the concept of these homegrounds defined these yard shows as containing what she calls the following themes: protection and safekeeping, personal virtuosity, community improvement, and honor to family and ancestors.1 To protection and safekeeping I add amulets and amuletic behavior, to personal virtuosity I add the aspect of cultural resistance that says, “I succeed in resisting just because I exist”, thus including charismatic being and constructive iconoclasm, to community improvement I read in also storytelling and didacticism, the visual function of American griotism, and I further clarify family and ancestors to bring in the aspects of the soul and the spirits--the essential religiosity of the Diaspora--sometimes silent but always present in some form. Errol McKenzie at his home

A yard show can also take non-yard forms. It is really a charged or protected space created and curated by a charismatic individual. Witness the environments Bill Traylor and Leonard Daley created by hanging their highly symbolic and meaning-fraught paintings and drawings in the almost ephemeral spaces around them. J.B. Murray did this also in the room in his home where he drew and meditated. Ras Dizzy Kevin Sampson’s arenas of remembrance fulfill the same function in the interior urban setting of Newark yet they are no less landscapes or yard shows in their intentionalities. Every artist in this exhibition is a mediator between different worlds. Whether Vodou priest like Hector Hyppolite, Robert St. Brice, or Lafortune Felix, or Revivalist elder like Everald Brown, visionary maverick like Leonard Daley, Woody Joseph, J.B. Murray, Ras Dizzy, Minnie Evans, cultural archivist like Kevin Sampson, Castera Bazile, George Liautaud or Bill Traylor, or intimately involved with the conjure culture itself like Oscar Gilchrist, Bessie Harvey or Atherton father and son, each of these artists fulfills some aspect of Gundaker’s points about home ground. From the Africanized church to the raw power of conjure this show covers a wide range of Diaspora spirituality. Some of it documents and some of it uses the actual nkisi or power objects themselves such as the bone elements by Gilchrist, the sculptures and paintings by Errol McKenzie that capture and transform evil energies into positive energies, and the musical instruments and other religious staffs, etc. made by Everald Brown for spiritual worship. Personal virtuosity is represented all through this exhibition in the distinct and powerful styles of each artist. Daley, Traylor, Sampson and Kingsley Thomas are all storytellers although they don’t always make the narratives obvious; Ras Dizzy’s drawings are more often than not about a mythical land called Sheffield which is populated by good and bad people and spirits. 1 Grey Gundaker in Keep Your Head to the Sky: Interpreting African American Homeground, p.14.


We were pleased also to be able to introduce our involvement with the Estate of J.B. Murray. For this first taste we chose a small group of drawings that only hint at the vast and subtle range of his vision and message, including his use of spirit writing to heal and teach the tormented spirits of those unsaved souls of this world and beyond. Even when others began to visit Murray he never lost the direct connection to his vision. No matter how abstract and skilled his compositions were, without his embedding that call he expressed to others through them, and thus using them to proselytize and prophesy to a larger pool of potential saved, his work never lost its original sacred purpose. We never saw the logic that excluded Haiti and Jamaica in the Caribbean and countries like Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Guyana in Central and Latin America from curatorial agendas despite the common origins of the work. Future curating in this field must focus on putting the weave of continuity back together again to give a true and more cohesive picture of contemporary American art. We hope HomeGround: Art from the PanAfrican Diaspora can inspire others to bring the yard show phenomenon to the worlds’ attention in the future. Shari and I would like to express our thanks to Luise Ross, Bill Bollendorf, Pan-American Gallery, Wayne Cox, Thomas Schulz, James Kearns, Laurie Carmondy, Aarne Anton and Jonathan Demme for their generosity in loaning work to this exhibition. I would also like to thank one of my own ancestors, Samuel Morris for ingraining a love of Haitian art in my upbringing and for sharing his collection of the work of Georges Liautaud which has continued to grow and deepen as a collection after his passing and hopefully will keep on under our stewardship. Thanks also to our staff: Mimi Kano, Marissa Levien, and Jurate Veceraite for their hard work and enthusiasm in putting together both the show and this catalog. Jah Bless. Randall Morris Brooklyn, 2012

All artist photography courtesy of Wayne Cox


Castera Bazile The Adoration, 1947 Oil on cardboard 30 x 24 in / 76 x 61 cm CBa 16


Castera Bazile Angel and Demon, c. 1950s Oil on cardboard 12 x 10 in / 30.5 x 25.5 cm CaB 2


Minnie Evans Untitled, n.d. Colored pencil on paper 12 x 9 in/ 30.5 x 23 cm MEv 24


Minnie Evans Untitled, 1943 Colored pencil, ink, graphite on paper 11.5 x 8.75in / 29 x 22 cm MEv 20


Minnie Evans Untitled, n.d. Colored pencil, graphite on paper 7.5 x 5.25in / 19 x 13 cm MEv 21


Minnie Evans Untitled, n.d. Colored pencil, graphite on paper 5.25 x 7 in / 13 x 18 cm MEv 22


Minnie Evans Untitled, n.d. Colored pencil, graphite on paper 7.5 x 5 in / 19 x 12.75 cm MEv 23


Hector Hyppolite Marassa, c. 1947-48 Oil on masonite 16 x 20 in/ 40.5 x 51 cm HHy 18


Woody Joseph Untitled, 1991 Polychromed cedar 22 x 7 x 6 in/ 54 x 58.5 cm WJ 10


Woody Joseph Untitled (Black Half Figure), c. 1980s Stained cedar 17 in WJ 8


Leonard Daley Problem, 1993 Oil on canvas 32 x 29 in/ 81 x 73.75 cm LE 32

Woody Joseph Untitled (Red Head and Hand), c. 1980s Stained cedar 11 x 8 x 7 in / 28 x 20.5 x 18 cm WJ 9


Robert St. Brice Untitled, 1949 Oil on masonite 21 x 16 in/ 53.5 x 40.5 cm RSB 18


Robert St. Brice Monkey, 1959 Oil on masonite 14 x 20.5 in/ 35.5 x 52 cm RSB 15


Robert St. Brice Three Figures, n.d. Oil on wood 32 x 24 in/ 81.25 x 61cm RSB 17


Osker Gilchrist Untitled, n.d. Bone, wire 31 x 19.25 x 7 in/ 79 x 49 x 18 cm OG 6


Osker Gilchrist Untitled (necklace), n.d. Bone, wire 24 x 13x 7 in/ 61 x 33 x 17.75 cm OG 7


Vincent Atherton Vessel, c. 1980s Cedar 13.5 x 7.5 x 6 in/ 34.25 x 19 x 15.25 cm LE 6


Vincent Atherton Untitled (Man with Snake), c. 1990s Cedar 17 x 11.5 x 7 in/ 43 x 29 x 18 cm ViA 6


Andre Pierre Simbi, 1972 Oil on masonite 32 x 37.5 in/ 81 x 95 cm AP 14


Andre Pierre Baron Samedi, 1993 Paint on gourd 12 x 9 x 4.5 in/ 30.5 x 23 x 11.5 cm AP 17


Bill Traylor Untitled (Basket with Plant), n.d. Colored pencil on cardboard 10 x 8 in/ 25.5 x 20.5 cm BT 20


Bill Traylor Untitled (Two Birds and Bug), n.d. Colored pencil on cardboard 14 x 10 in/ 35.5 x 25.5 cm BT 21


Bill Traylor Untitled (Figure in Fron tof Lamp), 1939 Pencil on cardboard 12 x 3.5 in/ 30.5 x 9 cm BT 19


Bill Traylor Untitled (Figure Chasing Turkey with Bird), n.d. Pencil on cardboard 6.75 x 6.25 in/ 17 x 16 cm BT 22


Everald Brown Four Person Dove Harp, n.d. Metal, polychromed wood 67 x 29 x 13 in / 170 x 73.75 x 33 cm EB 32


Everald Brown Star Harp, 1998 Metal, polychromed wood 35.5 x 17.75 x 5 in/ 90 x 45 x 12.75 cm EB 31


Everald Brown Bush People, n.d. Acrylic on board 24 x 32 in/ 61 x 81.25 cm EB 33


LaFortune Felix Kafou, c. 1970s Oil on masonite 20 x 24 in/ 50.75 x 61 cm LF 22


front This page and opposite page: J.B. Murray Untitled, c. 1978-1988 Marker on paper 10.75 x 8.5 in/ 27 x 21.5 cm JBM 22


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J.B. Murray Untitled, c.1978 -1988 Tempera, crayon on paper 14 x 11 in/ 35.5 x 28 cm JBM 652


J.B. Murray Untitled, c.1978 -1988 Maker on paper 25 x 19 in/ 63.5 x 48 cm JBM 3


J.B. Murray Untitled, c.1978 -1988 Tempera on paper 28 x 22 in/ 71 x 56 cm JBM 733


J.B. Murray Untitled, c.1978 -1988 Marker on paper 17 x 14 in/ 43 x 35.5 cm JBM 154


J.B. Murray Untitled, c.1978 -1988 Tempera, marker on paper 25.5 x 19.5 in/ 65 x 49.5 cm JBM 421


J.B. Murray Untitled, c.1978 -1988 Watercolor, crayon on paper 14 x 11 in/ 35.5 x 28 cm JBM 655


J.B. Murray Untitled, c.1978 -1988 Marker, crayon on paper 14 x 11 in/ 35.5 x 28 cm JBM 414


J.B. Murray Untitled, c.1978 -1988 Tempera on paper 25 x 19 in/ 63.5 x 48 cm JBM 502


L’Ouvertture Poisson Sous la Mer, 1949 Oil on masonite 16 x 21 in/ 40.5 x 53 cm LOP 3


L’Ouverture Poisson Congo, 1993 Oil on masonite 16 x 21 in/ 40.5 x 53 cm LOP 4


Ras Dizzy When Marshall John Reaches Star 17..., 1998 Oil, tempera on mat board 17.75 x 11.75 in/ 45 x 30 cm RD 103


Ras Dizzy Tbe Dread, 1998 Oil, tempera on mat board 14.25 x 10.75 in/ 36 x 27.25 cm RD 98


Anonymous Baron La Croix, c. 1970s Beads, sequence, textile 34 x 31 in/ 86.5 x 79 cm Anon 46


Errol McKenzie Untitled, 1996 Oil on oil cloth 42 x 24 in/ 107 x 61 cm EMc 6


Errol McKenzie Untitled, 2011 Oil on linen 43 x 25 in/ 109.25 x 63.5 cm EMc 9


Errol McKenzie Black Mother Rising, 2007 Oil on linen 64.25 x 29 in/ 163.25 x 73.75 cm EMc 8


Errol McKenzie Untitled, 1996 Cedar 9.5 x 5.5 x 3.5 in/ 24 x 14 x 9 cm EMc 3


Errol McKenzie Untitled, 1996 Cedar 10.5 x 5.25 x 4.375 in/ 27 x 13.25 x 11 cm EMc 7


Lloyd Atherton Untitled (Standing figure), c. early 1990s Cedar 16 x 2.5 x 2.25 in/40.5 x 6.5 x 6 cm LAt 4


Lloyd Atherton Untitled (Standing figure), c. early 1990s Cedar 11.25 x 2.625 x 1.75 in/ 28.5 x 6.75 x 4.5 cm LAt 3


Lloyd Atherton Untitled (Amulet), c. early 1990s Cedar 7 x 3.25 x 3.25 in/ 18 x 8 x 8 cm LAt 1


Lloyd Atherton Untitled (Buddha), c. early 1990s Cedar 15.5 x 2.25 x 3 in/ 39 x 5.5 x 7.5 cm LAt 1


Lloyd Atherton Untitled (Amulet), c. early 1990s Cedar 7.75 x 2.5 x 3.75 in/19.5 x 6.5 x 9.5 cm LAt 2


Kingsely Thomas Untitled, n.d. Paint on wood 17 x 5 x 4 in/ 43 x 13 x 10 cm KT 15

Kingsely Thomas Untitled, n.d. Paint on wood 15.5 x 4.5 x 3 in/ 39 x 10 x 7.5 cm KT 12


Leonard Daley Problem, 1993 Oil on canvas 32 x 29 in/ 81 x 73.75 cm LE 32


Leonard Daley White Egg, 1993 Mixed media on pressed board 21.25 x 23 in/ 54 x 58.5 cm LE 6


Leonard Daley Why, 1993 Mixed media on canvas 52.5 x 28.5 in/ 133 x 72.5 cm LE 9


Leonard Daley Love is Not Talk Love is Kindness, 1993 Mixed media on canvas 46.25 x 29.25 in/ 117.5 x 74.25 cm LE 10


Leonard Daley Living in Green, 1993 Mixed media on canvas 36 x 36 in/ 91.5 x 91.5 cm LE 8


front

back Leonard Daley Marjorie, 1993 Mixed media on canvas 26.5 x 38 in/ 67.25 x 96.5 cm LE 42


front This page and opposite page: Leonard Daley Humpty Dumpty What The Best, 1992 Mixed media on canvas 55 x 37 in/ 140 x 94 cm LE 44


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Leonard Daley Spirits Rising, 1993 Mixed media on canvas 30 x 49.5 in/ 76.25 x 125.75 cm LE 1


Leonard Daley Con Teng Qual Dalok Amanda, 1996 Mixed media on canvas 33.5 x 36.75 in/ 85 x 93.25 cm LE 21


Anonymous Bossou Sequins Flag, c. 1960 Sequins on cloth 34 x 25.5 in/ 86.5 x 64.75 cm Hai 1


Anonymous Bossou Sequins Flag, n.d. Sequins on cloth 31.5 x 26.5 in/ 80 x 67.25 cm Hai 18


Bessie Harvey Boy Is, 1989 Polychromed wood 20.5 x 16.25 x 14 in/ 52 x 41.5 x 35.6 cm BH 39


Bessie Harvey Adam and Eve, 1988 Found roots, metal, paint 42.5 x 17.5 in/ 108 x 44.5 cm BH 92


Leonard Daley Problem, 1993 Oil on canvas 32 x 29 in/ 81 x 73.75 cm LE 32


Bessie Harvey Egyptian King, 1985 Polychromed wood, hair, beads 13 x 9 in/ 33 x 23 cm BH 17


Bessie Harvey Snake Eye, 1989 Mixed media 25 x 14 x 10 in/ 63.5 x 35.5 x 25.5 cm BH 40


Bessie Harvey Lightning, 1986 Mixed media 38 x 10 x 8 in/ 96.5 x 25.5 x 20.25 cm BH 22


Bessie Harvey Jonah in Whale, n.d. Mixed media 29 x 8 x 7 in/ 73.75 x 20.25 x 18 cm BH 90


Georges Liautaud Station of the Cross, c. late 1970s Cut and hammered steel oil drum 36 x 34 x 11 in/ 91.5 x 86.5 x 28 cm GL 59


Georges Liautaud Untitled, n.d. Cut and hammered steel oil drum 11 x 11 x 4 in/ 28 x 28 x 10.25 cm GL 76


Georges Liautaud Untitled, n.d. Cut and hammered oil drum 31 x 13 x 9.5 in/ 78.75 x 33 x 24 cm GL 90


Georges Liautaud Untitled, n.d. Cut and hammered oil drum 16.75 x 11 x 1 in/ 42.5 x 28 x 2.5 cm GL 89


Georges Liautaud Untitled, n.d. Cut and hammered oil drum 29 x 12.25 x 7.5 in/73.75 x 31 x 19 cm GL 88


Georges Liautaud Untitled, n.d. Cut and hammered oil drum 28 x 25 x 5 in/ 71 x 63.5 x 12.75 cm GL 86


Georges Liautaud Untitled, n.d. Cut and hammered oil drum 25.5 x 19 x 1 in/ 65 x 48.25 x 2.5 cm GL 85


Georges Liautaud Untitled, n.d. Cut and hammered oil drum 24.5 x 14 x 1 in/ 62.25 x 35.5 x 2.5 cm GL 84


Georges Liautaud Untitled, n.d. Cut and hammered oil drum 35 x 25 x 1 in/ 89 x 63.5 x 2.5 cm GL 83


Georges Liautaud La Sirene, c. 1968 Cut steel oil drum 72 x 19 in/ 183 x 48.5 cm GL 2


Georges Liautaud Untitled, n.d. Cut and hammered oil drum 25.5 x 13 x 1 in/ 64.75 x 33 x 2.5 cm GL 79


Georges Liautaud Untitled, n.d. Cut and hammered oil drum 12 x 5 x 2.5 in/ 30.5 x 12.75 x 6.5 cm GL 91

Georges Liautaud Untitled, n.d. Cut and hammered oil drum 7 x 4 x 2 in/ 17.75 x 10.25 x 5 cm GL 92


Georges Liautaud Untitled, n.d. Cut and hammered oil drum 18 x 10 x 1 in/ 45.75 x 25.5 x 2.5 cm GL 81


Georges Liautaud Untitled, n.d. Cut and hammered oil drum 37.5 x 18 x 1 in/ 95.25 x 45.75 x 2.5cm GL 77


Georges Liautaud Untitled, n.d. Cut and hammered oil drum 21 x 14.5 x 1 in/ 53.25 x 36.75 x 2.5 cm GL 80


Georges Liautaud Untitled, n.d. Cut and hammered oil drum 24.25 x 16.75 x 1 in/ 61.5 x 42.5 x 2.5 cm GL 78


Georges Liautaud Untitled, n.d. Cut and hammered oil drum 17 x 15.25 x 5 in/ 43.25 x 38.75 x 12.75 cm GL 82


Georges Liautaud Untitled, n.d. Cut and hammered oil drum 18.75 x 10 x 6 in/ 47.5 x 25.5 x 15.25 cm GL 87


Kevin Sampson Venezia-African Jack, 2012 Mixed media 50.5 x 38 x 22.5 in/ 128.25 x 57.25 cm SK 193


Kevin Sampson The Golden Spike, 2001 Mixed media 48 x 16 x 11 in/ 122 x 40.5 x 28 cm SK 125


Cavin-Morris Gallery New York, New York 2012


Copyright Š 2012 Cavin-Morris Gallery Cavin-Morris Gallery 210 Eleventh Ave, Ste. 201 New York, NY 10001 t. 212 226 3768 www.cavinmorris.com Catalogue design: Mimi Kano & Marissa Levien Photography: Jurate Vicerate


HomeGround: Art of the Pan-African Diaspora