FREEDOMâ€™S JOURNAL The Art of Jerry Pinkney
For their generous support of this exhibition and its programming, Woodmere thanks the William M. King Charitable Foundation, the Lomax Family Foundation, Debbie Brodsky, Timoney Knox LLP, and the Drumcliff Foundation.
FREEDOM’S JOURNAL The Art of Jerry Pinkney
CONTENTS Foreword 3 A Conversation with Jerry Pinkney and Charles Blockson 10 A Conversation with Jerry Pinkney 40 Selected Works 64 Works in the Exhibition 80
February 16–May 12, 2019
Freedom’s Journal, from From Sea to Shining Sea: A Treasury of American Folklore and Folk Songs, 1993, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
Working with renowned Germantown-
active in the moment, and they require
born artist Jerry Pinkney has been an
focused manipulation to bring out their
honor for the entirety of Woodmere’s
emotive qualities. Encounters with
community. He brings a special
Pinkney himself are much the same. He is
humanity to all his books and to every
completely present in every conversation
illustration included in the exhibition
and he knows that all we do in life, and
Freedom’s Journal: The Art of Jerry
in our collaborative efforts to organize
Pinkney. He explains that watercolor is
exhibitions and engage people with art,
right medium for him—“the life of his
represent moments in a larger, ongoing
work”—because it requires “presence.”
dialogue. This sense of flow over time is
For him the pigments are alive and
especially evident in Freedom’s Journal, 3
which focuses on Pinkney’s explorations
Woodmere had the pleasure of working
of subjects in American history.
with Pinkney on The Storybook Magic of Jerry Pinkney, an exhibition we organized
Our title, Freedom’s Journal, is an
in 2017. That show was about the artist’s
homage to the newspaper of that name,
process: an exploration of the creative
the first in the United States to serve
paths that would start with a concept or
the African American community. From
collaborative conversation with an author,
page to page, it stands as a remarkable
and develop through sketches, figure
historical document, owned and
studies, dummy books, and finished
operated by free black men in New York
illustrations that were then integrated
City for two years, from 1827 through
with text and finally published in book
1829. This exhibition shows that Pinkney
form. It was through the experience and
is a teacher and historian whose medium
successes of The Storybook Magic of
is watercolor. All of us at Woodmere
Jerry Pinkney that all of us at Woodmere
learned of Freedom’s Journal because
realized that we wanted to do more with
Pinkney includes the masthead—together
with a portrait of Harriet Tubman and a scene from the Underground Railroad—
The current exhibition evolved from a
in an illustration he made for From Sea
subsequent visit to Pinkney’s studio,
to Shining Sea: A Treasury of American
where Woodmere staff and Pinkney
Folklore and Folk Songs (1993). Pinkney
talked about what would come next,
understands that Freedom’s Journal
what would be our next project to
represents as much of a first important
inspire a new and deeper understanding
attempt to create a historical record
of the artist’s work. The answer came
of the black experience, as its short
from the walls of the studio itself, where,
two-year existence also represents a
hanging together with awards and
journey through American history on
other special images and documents,
the part of its writers and publishers.
is a framed print of the cover of the
The journey as a metaphor of life itself
July 1984 issue of National Geographic.
figures throughout Pinkney’s work and
Pinkney had made the cover illustration
throughout the exhibition.
and several watercolors for the 4
magazineâ€™s groundbreaking article on
by violence, and an imagined liberation
the Underground Railroad, written by the
of a group of enslaved Igbo (also spelled
great historian and friend to Woodmere,
Ybo, as Lester does in the book) people
Charles L. Blockson. This was the first
through a journey back to Africa. It was
cover story and cover illustration by a
Pinkney who directed our attention
black author and black artist, and we
to The Old African because it is an
now see it as a collaboration by two
important achievement and a book that
titanic figures in their respective fields
holds a special place among his many
that has become a landmark in the
presentation of American history. On
Both Minty and The Old African share
the cover, a full-length portrait of Harriet
the forward-looking message that the
Tubman commands the scene, a pillar
only way to live is free. This pointed us
of strength surrounded by figures who
to another milestone book in Pinkneyâ€™s
pray, cry with joy, hug, and dance after
career, I Want To Be (1993), written by
achieving freedom at the end of the
Thylias Moss. This charming masterpiece
arduous and dangerous journey out of
revolves around a young black girl of
our own time who imagines the great
It was an obvious leap from these works
possibilities that lie in her grown-up
about the Underground Railroad to
future: without saying the word, she lives
include the illustrations for Minty: A
the freedom, thinks the freedom, and
Story of Young Harriet Tubman (1996),
expresses the freedom in her movements
written by Alan Schroeder, an imagined
that was forbidden to Minty or the
account of events in the life of the young
enslaved characters in The Old African.
Tubman when she was enslaved on
Finally, we hope visitors to the exhibition
the Brodas plantation in Maryland. Two
are inspired by the courage of the
other books also came into focus. The
artist. Pinkney is unafraid to lay bare
Old African (2005), written by Julius
the personal meaning of the histories
Lester, is an account of the process
he addresses, and these resonances
of enslavement: capture in Africa, the
are everywhere in his watercolors. The
horrors of the Middle Passage, the trial 5
Top: It Happened So Quickly, from The Old African, 2005, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist); Bottom: My Nameâ€™s Minty, from Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman, 1996, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
father-like figure in the garden in I Want
perspective on history and life includes
to Be is a straightforward self-portrait.
all people and peoples. Ironically, we
In addition, Pinkney has explained that
understand now that the point is made in
the girl is also a self-portrait, so free
every image of every book.
was the nurturing of his imagination by
Freedom’s Journal: The Art of Jerry
his own parents. He projects his himself
Pinkney is a true collaboration between
into his figures, including the enslaved
Woodmere’s staff, the artist, and many
people chained together in the hold of
others. Thank you, Jerry, for trusting
the ship in The Old African. He depicts
Woodmere and giving of yourself so
the men and women with a range of
generously. Special thanks also to
emotions we can imagine ourselves
the artist’s best friend and partner in
experiencing: visceral terror, anger, revolt,
life, Gloria Pinkney, who brings the
devastating sadness. The journeys of
warmth of heartfelt spirituality to every
the many characters in Pinkney’s books
conversation. Woodmere is honored by
represent some aspect of the shared
the friendship we enjoy with Charles
journeys of life and a need to understand
L. Blockson, as well as Leslie Willis
the emotional dimensions of history. The
Lowery and Diane Turner of the Charles
Old African, Minty, and I Want to Be are
L. Blockson Afro-American Collection
Pinkney’s explorations of his own history
at Temple University. The conversation
as a black American. By unleashing the
in these pages between Pinkney and
emotions in the stories, he makes the
Blockson is historic. The same can be
history bigger, creating an inclusive visual
said of the conversation we captured on
dialogue that belongs to everyone. We
video between Pinkney and our friend,
made a conscious choice to include
Crystal Lucky, Associate Professor
illustrations from Tonweya and The Eagles
of English and Associate Dean of
and Other Lakota Indian Tales (1992) and
Baccalaureate Studies, College of Liberal
David’s Songs: His Psalms and Their Story
Arts and Sciences at Villanova University.
(1992), which treat Native American and Jewish histories respectively. The
We are thrilled to have produced two
idea was to demonstrate that Pinkney’s
videos that feature readings of Minty 7
by Suzanne Burgess and The Old
Finally, Woodmere extends deepest
African by Warren Oree. Special thanks
gratitude to our exhibition sponsors,
to Suzanne, Greg (Ju Ju) Jones, Larry
who were especially generous and
Price, Frank Butrey, Adam Faulk, Doug
enthusiastic in their support. We
Pablo Edwards, and especially to Warren,
thank the William M. King Charitable
whose power as a composer, musician,
Foundation, the Lomax Family
and bandleader never ceases to amaze
Foundation, Debbie Brodsky, Timoney
us. That we were able to record The Old
Knox LLP, and the Drumcliff Foundation
African in one take, and Minty in two, still
for stepping forward with levels of
astonishes me, and I know Iâ€™ll be listening
support that made the exhibition
to these recordings for a very long time
possible and reflect its importance.
into my future. At Woodmere, Rachel
To everyone, thank you, thank you, and
McCay, Hildy Tow, and Rick Ortwein
thank you again!
deserve special thanks for the dedication, creativity, and passion they poured into
WILLIAM R. VALERIO, PHD
the exhibition, which as always glows
The Patricia Van Burgh Allison
off the walls of our galleries. Stephanie
Director and CEO
Marudas is our partner in making our podcast Diving Board and Patrick Dolan made the many videos that are part of the exhibition. The special collaboration we enjoy with WURD radio is bringing extra visibility to the exhibition, and we specially appreciate all that Sara Lomax Reese has done to build a unique collaborative partnership. The depth of talent that has been given to the exhibition is wonderful.
Floating on Air, from I Want to Be, 1993, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
A CONVERSATION WITH JERRY PINKNEY AND CHARLES BLOCKSON
On November 14th, 2018, artist Jerry Pinkney sat down to discuss his work with Charles Blockson, historian and founder and curator emeritus of the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection at Temple University. They were joined by Diane Turner, PhD, curator of the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection at Temple University; Leslie Willis-Lowry, archivist of the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection at Temple University; William Valerio, Woodmere’s Patricia Van Burgh Allison Director and CEO and Hildy Tow, Woodmere’s Robert L. McNeil, Jr. Curator of Education. WILLIAM VALERIO:
I have come to
Charles, the power of
understand the landmark status of
this article is your legacy, but you told
“Escape from Slavery: The Underground
me before that your interest in the
Railroad” in the history of the writing
Underground Railroad started with your
of American history. This article was
desire to know about yourself, and how
published by National Geographic and it
you place yourself in terms of American
changed the way people understood the
history. I don’t have that knowledge of
Underground Railroad, made it concrete
my own lineage that you have. I recently
and visceral as a cooperative system of
visited Thomasville, Georgia, for a school
people who were escaping enslavement
presentation and had the opportunity
or were assisting in the escape.
to explore nearby sites related to
black history. I was hoping to talk to
At the time I wrote
a genealogist to find out more about
the article, in 1984, I didn’t know I was
where my mother came from—I had
related to Harriet Tubman. I learned
heard Macon, Georgia. We went armed
later I’m related by marriage, through
with little bits of information to guide us,
two marriages: one through the Bradley
but when we got there we found out we
family and the other through the
knew even less. A little disappointing,
yet I still felt a yearning to learn as 10
Moses Of Her People, from National Geographic, 1984, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
much as possible about black life in my
motherâ€™s home state.
interesting way of working. Itâ€™s two-
National Geographic has this
pronged in that the text and the art tell
Can you describe how this
two separate stories, but they come
project began? Jerry, your cover image
together to tell a much fuller story.
is the face of the article.
Harriet Tubman certainly was a natural choice for the cover for a lot of reasons. We know everyone can identify with her, 11
and most people know at least one story about her, whether it be as a nurse, a spy for the Union army, or her most wellknown role, as one of the conductors of the Underground Railroad. For me, I was also drawn to the fact that she demonstrates a journey, or distance, from the South to Canada. BLOCKSON:
That’s what National
Geographic is about—geography—isn’t it? PINKNEY :
Right. So we get that sense of
Cover for National Geographic magazine, vol. 166, no. 1, July 1994
Jerry, don’t forget that this
was the first cover by a black artist
together with the first cover story by a
Geographic wanted to use their
black historian and writer—we had to go
traditional format of a photograph on the
through a lot to get that. PINKNEY:
cover. I really felt that Jerry’s work was right for the cover and I worked with the
I remember you calling me to
editor, Mr. Garrett, to make that happen.
tell me that we had gotten the cover, and how excited you were. BLOCKSON: PINKNEY:
It’s historical. National
You remember that?
But you led the fight.
What’s interesting is the
cropping of the image. It’s too bad that
Yeah, I remember that so clearly,
because of your effort to make sure they
the couple on the right who are rejoicing
included these illustrations. I never could
are edited out. You miss that. Also, the
I have dreamed of getting the cover—
reader doesn’t get a full sense of the
art hadn’t been on the cover for sixteen
journey, because the deep perspective
of length of the bridge is also removed.
spiritual goes, “There’s one more river
Looking at the actual drawing, there’s
to cross. Walk together children, walk
a strong sense of the journey—these
people come from someplace distant, a VALERIO:
travels from one figure out to the next
It’s the journey.
I love the metaphor of the rope
as if there’s something spiritual that goes from hand to hand from gesture to gesture.
bridge, and how precarious it is. BLOCKSON:
It reminds you of what they
Yeah, and you captured that,
had to go through. PINKNEY:
You can see how the strength
Charles, were you commissioned
When I’m illustrating something
it’s important to understand the subject
to do the text or was the text already
and the writer. You can imagine me
trying to enter into an understanding
about my own history, getting it
National Geographic had
unsuccessfully explored other writers and
presented by someone as poetic and as
then they came to me.
passionate as Charles. What I remember was during those first meetings I had a
Did you have any specific ideas
sense from talking with you that I had
about what the cover image should be?
a guide. I had a guide who looked like
me and had more knowledge to share
Yes, Jerry came to my home
with me. What spurred us on was the
and showed me his illustrations. I said,
energy in the conversations between
Jerry, place Harriet Tubman in the middle
us. I met with Charles and the folks
going across the old suspended bridge,
from National Geographic to get a feel
that bridge that wobbles back and
for the Underground Railroad route in
forth with swirling water down below.
Philadelphia that the escaping runaways
People are afraid—they’re escaping from
might’ve taken. As we walked, history
the slave catchers. The line of the old
was revealing itself to me in a way that 13
Eliza Crossing the Ice, from National Geographic, 1984, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
gave me context, especially since our
This wasnâ€™t published in the article in the
meeting point was just twenty minutes
from where I grew up. PINKNEY: HILDY TOW:
Yes, thatâ€™s the Ohio River.
Charles, could you fill us in on the story?
Another illustration created
for this article is Eliza Crossing the Ice. 14
fugitives escape from Kentucky across
She crossed the partially
frozen Ohio River. She was going to
the Ohio River. His home sat near the
be separated from her only child. She
river. This character is based on him.
planned to cross the river into the VALERIO:
safety of Ohio, which was a free state.
The hand gesture is so
important. That’s how you see the two
Many enslaved people escaped through
colors of skin together. There’s something
Ohio because they could reach the
in that detail that’s powerful.
Great Lakes, where ship captains could transport them to Canada. When Eliza
reached the river she saw that it was
Hands play a really important role, a way
no longer frozen over and large blocks
for the body to convey so much feeling.
Well, for me it’s all in the hands.
of ice were coming loose and floating You see she’s barefoot and on the
downstream. Fearing capture, she ran
onto the moving ice and lost her shoes
ice. That’s the other part of the story. It
in the process. Carrying her child to
was her only way to get across, so she
freedom, she ran across the frozen ice
blocks, jumping from one to another, in
bare feet, to reach the safety of the other
the Ohio River where Eliza began her
side. She almost lost her life. You see the
crossing. I’m oftentimes looking at
slave catchers in the back with dogs? TOW:
Later, I stood on the side of
research without visiting the places depicted in my art. So it was dramatic
This is a time when their lives
were at stake. Those who helped
for me to realize that I was close enough
enslaved people were also subject to
to feel that location, and powerful to be
imprisonment and other severe penalties.
standing on the river bank looking across
The federal government had decided that
the water at that same land mass that
fugitive slaves needed to be returned.
was Eliza’s promise of freedom.
Who is the people reaching out
That is a visceral image, and a
visceral story. I love the way the man’s
upraised arm intertwines with the tree. There was a man named
He’s getting strength from the tree. Even
Reverend John Rankin who helped
his back leg is intertwined where the tree
goes into the ground—that’s the safety,
that’s the strength, that’s the anchor.
Conductors is an image that I created for
What’s amazing about the image, too,
National Geographic, but as Hildy said
is the log in the foreground with those
earlier in the end it wasn’t published. I
teeth coming forward, and the jagged
don’t think it ever got to layout stage, or
edge in the foreground—like the dead
anything like that. National Geographic
is a photojournalistic magazine. They
only use illustration if they can’t find
It’s always interesting to hear
a photograph. Even though I was
someone else comment and see things
commissioned to do four paintings,
in your work—because I don’t know I’m
National Geographic also sent out an
doing that. BLOCKSON:
army of photographers to take pictures of Underground Railroad sites as well as
You’re too close.
stage scenes to fit the story—using props PINKNEY:
In all of my work my goal is for
such as lanterns that might’ve been used
the viewer to feel invested in the story. I
in that journey or time period. So when
set up a composition that tells another
the photographers came back with their
story. The beauty and the magic is that
images, National Geographic felt they
if you have an idea that you’re trying to
had satisfied the mission of the magazine
visually communicate, once you fixate on
and they decided to use fewer of my
that idea, then everything else follows.
illustrations. I think Charles and I still feel
Everything else reinforces what you have
that getting the cover for my illustration
in your head that you’re trying to say.
made up for them not publishing all of
the artwork I created.
Your sophistication with color is
very apparent. The snow has such subtle
I think the only images of mine they were
shading, with the different pale greens,
thinking about using were the portraits.
and then her hat, and her head covering
Charles was involved with pushing for the
and the blues.
cover idea. I wasn’t involved.
You captured it, Jerry, that’s
perfect. I’m not sure if I’ve seen this before.
Underground Railroad Conductors, from National Geographic, 1984, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
That’s right. I worked
with every department at National Geographic. Wilbur Garrett, the editor; the art department; the documentation department; the photographers; maps—I worked with all of them. At the time, I don’t know if you remember, I said you’ll still be talking about this article when you’re a hundred years old. Silk lace and linen shawl given to Harriet Tubman by Queen Victoria (Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Charles L. Blockson)
After it was published I traveled all over. The State Department sent me to the Caribbean, to Scandinavia. Everywhere I went, people talked about this article. As
Museum of African American History and
I mentioned I’m related to Tubman and I
Culture. People go there and cry when
inherited forty-nine items from her that
they see it. It’s spiritual.
have been passed down in my family.
One of them was her shawl, which had
for me about the National Geographic
been a gift from Queen Victoria. PINKNEY:
It’s spiritual. What was incredible
project was that I finally had work that spoke about where I came from,
Do you remember, Charles,
when you were gifted her shawl? Do you
not only in terms of heritage, but also
remember the first time you held it?
Germantown specifically, since the very
neighborhood where I grew up had
I prayed over it. I said, “God,
homes that were Underground Railroad
why me?” Tubman bequeathed her
safe houses. So, what came to me as an
possession to her nieces. The shawl
assignment held something in it, even
passed through them to another great
before I met Charles. It continued to
grandniece, Mariline Wilkins, to me. She
snowball in that way—meeting Charles,
lived in Philly and I used to talk to her all
our relationship—because there was
the time. Eventually I decided that the
something kindred there from the very
place for it was the Smithsonian National
that out. What is magical is that all this
I walked away from a pro
came together at the right time.
football career to become a historian. People said, “You’re crazy.” People said,
“How can you walk away from that?” It
Mr. Blockson’s passion for collecting
was easy for me. Collecting is my life
the objects, the texts, and the material
and preserving this history is an honor.
culture dovetails beautifully with what
The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary
makes your illustrations so potent.
of slaves first entering this country. It’s
It’s the details. It’s the attention to
the perfect tie-in with the Underground
understanding sad hierarchies of life
on a Southern plantation through the objects. Or, with The Old African,
Where did the first enslaved
which includes the story of the Middle
person come to in America? BLOCKSON:
Passage, the physical details of the boat
The first enslaved people,
that shape the terrible experience of it.
captured originally in Angola, were
You make your watercolors through a
brought to the English settlement of
specific understanding of the structure
Jamestown in the Colony of Virginia in
of the hold, the ladders, the kinds of
1619. In terms of Philadelphia’s history, the
chains that were used, the shackles, the
first enslaved people were brought here
way people were kept side-by-side—it’s
in the 1680s by Dutch and Swedish slave
understanding the history that makes
traders. I helped establish the historical
the illustration. There’s something very
marker at the Independence Seaport
powerful in this connection between the
Museum that marks the place where
historian and the artist.
enslaved Africans were sold in this city. PINKNEY:
What’s so interesting is how
Well, here’s the power of all this.
In that attention to detail you
see my desire to know as much as
Your curiosity and your sense of needing
possible about the subject. We express it
to collect and preserve came at the same
differently, through pictures and words,
time when I needed to find out more
but Charles and I share this powerful
about my own history. I needed to figure
need to feed our curiosity. 19
The Captured Ones Leaped to Their Feet, from The Old African, 2005, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
record history as it’s happening in real
Jerry and I are conduits. This
happened 400 years before we were
time. The goal of the museum, and of
born, but we’re a part of it. This article
this exhibition, is to bring the history and
laid the foundation. I’ve been all over
the art together, because together they
the country, all over the world, and
mean something to the present.
everywhere I go people know about this BLOCKSON:
article. What do they say to you when
Plymouth Meeting there was a stop
they find out you illustrated it? PINKNEY:
on the Underground Railroad. Art and history are so alive everyplace in
Just recently when I was up
at Northampton, Massachusets at R. Michelson Galleries, I was signing books
and somebody had a copy of National
Yes, Abolition Hall, at the
intersection of Germantown Pike and
Geographic for a signature. So that’s the
Butler Pike, was built by the Corson
power of history well told. I also feel that
this slice of history is even more relevant in today’s racially fractured times. VALERIO:
Right down the road in
The Corson family were
Quakers. Frederick Douglass was there,
People often ask those of us
and Sojourner Truth. I knew about
who work in museums: “How do you
Abolition Hall when I was eleven years
decide what art you’re going to put up in
old. My father had a business, plaster
the museum?” For me, art has two parts.
painting and whitewashing, and every
There’s the “art” part of it, that’s the
few years we would whitewash and paint
fantasy, the imagination, the emotions,
whether it stimulates my mind. That might be different for you and me, and
there’s no right and wrong with that.
house and lived there until her nineties,
Some art’s going to talk to me, some art’s
preserved every candlestick that existed
not going to. Then there’s the historical
from the nineteenth century.
dimension. Art is embedded in history. It can have a historical purpose or it can 21
Nancy Corson, who inherited the
Bill, how did you come up with
the idea for this exhibition? VALERIO:
I knew from the first time we
worked with Jerry that we wanted to have an ongoing relationship. His work is so powerful. When I found out that the National Geographic article was a project that brought you and Jerry together, I thought we had to make this the anchor of an exhibition because people have to know about this, and have to see these astonishing images. Jerry’s National Geographic watercolors should be part of the public understanding of the history of art, which is the work of the museum. BLOCKSON:
But you’re going to add some
of the Park Service images? VALERIO:
Yes, we’re going to include the
Park Service images, including Bound For the Other Side, which is really a tourde-force of color and light—a nighttime image of people crossing a river. A stunner! Jerry, can you describe your inspiration for that picture?
Bound For The Other Side, from Underground Railroad National Park Service Handbook, 1996, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
keep their guard up. It was about this
The National Park Service asked
pilgrimage, but it was also looking ahead.
me for a symbolic painting, to speak to the Underground Railroad. This was
for an official handbook that would
Well, you feel that moment. That
figure in the center, the young man with
provide people with information about
the cap who’s turning, is very complex.
the Underground Railroad, the history
One foot forward, one foot back,
of slavery, and the abolition movement.
reaching out with one hand, his other
Sometimes when it’s that broad a
hand behind. He’s sort of a pivotal figure.
subject, I start with words, words that
As you say, it’s that moment where
connect directly to that time and that
they’re about to arrive on the shore.
situation. One of the words I associate with that journey is “night,” because they
traveled at night. Another is “water,”
ally. He’s more of a symbolic figure of
because water played an incredible role.
someone either waiting there or guiding
Every escaping runaway had to cross
the boat onto the shore. There again is a
a body of water at some point—they’d
mother protecting her child—a recurring
use it to wash away their scent, making
theme you’ll find in my work. This is a
it difficult to be tracked by dogs. And
figure group I’ve used in other depictions
because the focus is, again, journey and
of slavery and plantation life, as well as
travel, I had to create a deep perspective
the Underground Railroad. It conveys
to show that they were coming a long
a sense of protecting one another and
distance. You see the perspective in the
the power in a mother protecting her
center goes back to where they came
children in the face of hardship.
The figure on the right is an
from. TOW: VALERIO:
A distant shore.
You can see the journey is not
How many people do historians
estimate traveled on the Underground Railroad?
complete by the fact that one figure on
the left is still looking out for danger.
100,000? It was a clandestine
There’s still apprehension, still a need to
organization, so they don’t know. 24
They don’t know—40,000?
So much of this was miscounted
on purpose. I remember ten or fifteen years ago asking a question about Toronto and Canada, and its population of escaped slaves, and the response was they didn’t know. Or it wasn’t considered part of the history of that area. VALERIO:
It’s so important to undo that
forgetting. We understand historically why that was, and yet what could be more important today? We all are responsible for this story. We will also include images from Minty, about the young Harriet Tubman, a teenager enslaved on a plantation in Maryland. And we’ll show work from I Want to Be, a more contemporary story of a young girl looking at her future, and wondering what her journey will be. They’re spectacular images and we hope these especially with engage families and children. We also know that people come to TOW:
museums to be surrounded by the
Still an enormous number of people.
beauty of art, and that’s a good thing.
Top: So Strong that a Kite Seems Weak, from I Want to Be, 1993, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist); Bottom: This Is My Chance to Run Away, from Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman, 1996, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
Beauty takes many forms in art: a flower, a landscape, the human figure, or a challenging idea. This exhibition is going to have it all! 25
It’s going to be popular, too.
Jerry, we’d like to ask about
your work for the African Burial Ground
I’d love to ask you a question,
Mr. Blockson, as a historian. How do you explain the Middle Passage to children,
to adults? It would be interesting to
was discovered in New York, in Lower
talk about how Jerry does it, and Julius
Manhattan. Now there is an interactive
Lester does it in the book, but as a
museum on that site. The National Park
historian—it’s not included in so many of
Service came to me and said that they
our history books, so how do you do it?
wanted to have these images of seven
individuals who were believed to have
That’s a good question. It’s
been buried there. The Park Service
hard for me even to think about it. I have
supplied me with a little vignette for each
a mental block when I come to that
person, a backstory, and information
period, and those ships. Jerry, how did
about the clothes they would have worn.
you feel when you did the drawings for
The information they shared with me
The Old African? PINKNEY:
An African burial ground
came from clips of newspaper articles about escaping slaves. The images would
Well, I often talk about my work
be set up as life-size cutouts.
as my life. In my artistic process, there are times when I’m sad and there are
times when there are tears, but there are
This figure, Peter Williams, Sr.,
is extremely elegant and beautifully
many times when there is joy. If you look
at my work, you’ll see a sense of balance, so it isn’t all one thing. For The Old
African, which was my most demanding
Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in
and emotionally difficult project to date,
New York. He was enslaved and bought
it took me over a year to complete the
his own freedom. He became unhappy
body of paintings for the book. But then
with the unequal treatment of black
you’ll find I Want to Be, which is hopeful
parishioners at the John Street Methodist
Episcopal Church in New York.
He started the African
Peter Williams, for the African Burial Ground National Monument, New York, 2008, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
During the process of making
the images, I had to divorce myself from the fact that they had been real people. I had to give some sense of that time and the dress, visually honoring and paying reverence to the many souls who were laid to rest there in Lower Manhattan, but I couldn’t let my emotional state get in the way of doing my job. I had to see them as subjects, so even in my own mind, I couldn’t call them by name until after the images were finished. TOW:
You had to draw from multiple
sources and imagine them as people. I have to guess that it was a gradual process of bringing them to life, gradually getting to know them. All that was left of
Mary, for the African Burial Ground National Monument, New York, 2008, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
them were the skeletal remains.
hoe had to rest on the ground, so they BLOCKSON:
Jerry, where did you get the
had to run parallel to the floor.
image of Peter Williams, Sr.? TOW: PINKNEY:
There was a portrait of Peter
She’s working. Look at the sleeping
baby on her back.
Williams. The Park Service also gave me BLOCKSON:
information about what he might have worn at the time. This painting was going
And she would hold her baby.
to be mounted on the wall—again, life-
And that’s African
retention. Retention is the preservation of
size—so you see the position of the feet.
African cultural practices or “survivals”—
If you look at the other paintings, they
Africans brought their culture with them
rest on the floor. For example, the woman
to the New World.
with the hoe, both of her feet and the 28
Her name is Mary.
the leadership of Howard Dodson, then director of the Schomburg Center for
Those remains passed
Research in Black Culture, who had
through Philadelphia—remember that? WILLIS-LOWRY:
accompanied the coffins on each stop of the journey.
Yes, on October 2, 2003,
I organized the Philadelphia tribute to
The tribute in Philadelphia began with
honor the skeletal remains from the
an ecumenical service at Mother Bethel
African Burial Ground. The remains were
AME Church, located in the heart of what
discovered in 1991 by workmen while
was the Colonial African community.
preparing excavation for the construction
From Mother Bethel, the four coffins
of a new federal office building. The
were carried to Washington Square, once
construction site was originally a burial
known as Congo Square, for a symbolic
ground where approximately 20,000
interment that featured the pouring of
free and enslaved Africans were interred
libations, prayers, and songs as crowds
during the Colonial era.
turned out to pay homage to those
A team from Howard University’s
unknown Africans. This was followed by
W. Montague Cobb Research Laboratory
a closing tribute ceremony and reception
was chosen to collect the ancestral
at the African American Museum in
remains of four representatives—a
Philadelphia. Mr. Blockson spoke at
man, a woman, a girl, and a boy—
the Mother Bethel ecumenical service,
for curation and analysis. When the
at Congo Square, and at the program
study was complete, four hand-carved
at the African American Museum,
African mahogany coffins traveled to
where he gave a detailed history of
select cities—Baltimore, Wilmington,
the contributions of African people in
Philadelphia, Camden, and Jersey
City—where they were part of a series
of tributes entitled “Rites of Ancestral
It was an important day. How
did you feel being at the site, Jerry?
Return” before they were brought back to New York. These tributes culminated
in a commemorative ceremony under
being interviewed by the FBI for a 29
I came across it when I was
Belinda and Her Small Charge, for the African Burial Ground National Monument, New York, 2008, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
presidential appointment to the National
Some of the installation includes actual
Council on the Arts. The position
objects. In this painting Belinda is missing
required White House security clearance,
a pot or a cooking vessel that she would
so I was invited to the FBI offices in
be leaning over, but they actually added
Lower Manhattan. The interview process
a pot to the installation. Whatever seems
was quite intense and I remember being
to be missing from the illustrations would
somewhat apprehensive about it all. But
be an object, a three-dimensional object.
I came across this gated area—a small VALERIO:
lot that would become the site of the
Well, this is an amazing image,
too. What’s happening here, Jerry?
national monument visitor center for the burial ground—and I remember it as a
A very important trade.
sign of hope that things were going to be PINKNEY:
okay for me.
Exactly. It was all brutal labor. I
remember when I was doing the image of the young girl, Amelia, and they kept
saying that she wasn’t thin enough, that I had to convey this sense that she was not adequately fed for the task that she had to do, which was to carry wood back and forth. The backstories were created not only from the remains, but also from information about what a child would have done, what their task might have been at that time. PINKNEY:
He’s a cooper, or a barrelmaker.
A very important trade.
This is all difficult history of
American life. Let me ask again for your thoughts on how to best engage audiences with this. BLOCKSON:
When you start with the
Underground Railroad, it embraces everything, including children like Jerry’s little child being held by parents. It embraces white people, black people, Native Americans, the whole of humanity. It’s easy. It’s part of humanity. Anyone can see themselves: grandmother, mother, children, brother. There are villains and heroes. PINKNEY: Top: Andrew Saxon, for the African Burial Ground National Monument, New York, 2008, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist); Bottom: Amelia, for the African Burial Ground National Monument, New York, 2008, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
History teaches us that there
have always been people with power
who have enslaved others for profit,
were raised and educated in the South
and it can be very painful to look
and whose hearts and homes are still
at those realities head-on. Before
in the South. We had the opportunity
illustrating Minty, for example, I began
to visit a tenant farm home and listen
by researching the history of slavery
to a recording of the children—now
worldwide, and my research provided
adults—who grew up there. They talked
a way of entering the project from an
about their living conditions, rooms with
objective, historical point of view.
newspapers plastered to the walls to keep out the winter winds, the hard work,
But Charles is right, the Underground
but most notably, the joy generated by
Railroad does encompass humanity, and
a loving family. I’m from the North, and
it’s also about courage and triumph,
I’ve always viewed slavery and plantation
which is maybe the way of teaching it to
life through files and books, so these
children: to tell as full a story as possible
were not the stories of hardship I had
in a way that sparks curiosity to want to
expected. What I heard in their own
learn more—about Africans torn from
voices was their spirited and industrious
the motherland, the Middle Passage,
slavery, resilience, bravery, grit. And most importantly, to remember and celebrate
All history is complex, especially
black achievement and contributions to
Southern history. It’s essential to tell the
full story about the brutality of slavery and a system trying to strip away all
When I was in Georgia, we went to
that it means to be human, but also to
Pebble Hill plantation, and I couldn’t
punctuate that with stories of courage
get out of the car to walk. It had the
and the resilience of the human spirit. Tell
most spectacular architecture and to
children about Harriet Tubman, Frederick
know that it was built on the backs of
Douglass, Sojourner Truth, and the first
enslaved people was difficult to digest. I
black president, Barack Obama.
didn’t want to walk the grounds. On the other hand, it was the most enlightening
experience to talk to black folks who
doing exhibits, which I think is important, 32
Mr. Blockson, when we were
Look! Bayo Shouted, from The Old African, 2005, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
you always told me to make reference
Diane, that Africa is the humanity that
to Africa, because that’s where our
was taken away by enslavement.
humanity comes from and then through PINKNEY:
this journey, no matter what it is, these
illustrated before. It tends to end when
individuals are still here. VALERIO:
This story has been told and
the Igbo enter the water. Julius has invented that they actually walked back
This is an interesting comment
in relation to The Old African, which
to Africa on the ocean floor. He has given
becomes a journey back to Africa. This
the reader a mythical ending charged
image of the arrival of the people on
with the element of hope.
the beach in Africa is joyous. The Old African makes the point you just made literal. There’s a part in Julius Lester’s writing where they’re walking along the bottom of the ocean and it starts to rise, and they come back up in Africa. It’s triumphant. It’s more than hope—it’s the triumph of exactly what you just said, 33
He’s already transforming in the
image underwater, with the sharks—he’s wearing the Igbo cloth. BLOCKSON: PINKNEY :
I am Igbo.
I worked with John Origi, an
historian who is Igbo, and we went back and forth about what was important to include. He sat down with a drawing student and he described things that he knew. The student did these little drawings as John spoke. Eventually
Be and Endure, from The Old African, 2005, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
he sent back a drawing of an elder, an Igbo elder, with an eagle feather in his
cap. The old African wore a formal top
is that they’re generally driven by
hat passed down from the slave owner
something that means something to
and I wanted to distinguish him, the Old
them personally. What makes it art that is
African, from everyone else. In the story,
useful in a museum context is that it has
the Old African transforms into a hawk,
an impact that matters to other people
and I wanted to suggest that in the
One of the things about artists
image itself—including a hawk’s feather in TURNER:
his hat was a way of doing it.
Well, when I taught African
American history on a regular basis, I BLOCKSON: PINKNEY:
always included art. You can’t talk about the history without including art, music,
I love red and I tend to use it
poetry. You have to include art because
a lot, but when his hat changes I was
it really does tell you things. One of the
particular about using the shade of red
things I was thinking about in terms of
that the Igbo wore.
this exhibition and why it’s so important is that it’s so timely.
To His Hawkâ€™s Eye, from The Old African, 2005, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
Yes, we’re living in a fraught
moment where the country is divided.
This is an exhibition about healing. TURNER: PINKNEY :
The whole exhibition is about
How long does it take you to
make one of your watercolors?
I heard something the other day
that really struck me, and it was about PINKNEY:
that statement that often is spoken
I rarely work on an image more
than seven days start to finish. I work
about—that we’ve never been in such
pretty intense hours on these things as
a divided time. I can’t remember who
well. The beauty of watercolor, which is
said it, but they said we can only say
a challenge for some people, is that you
that we’ve never been in such a divided
have to be in the present. You have to be
time if you don’t include slavery, because
there to meet its needs as well. So you’re
slavery wasn’t part of the conversation
working very intensely.
when there were other divided times. To me that’s the answer. In so many ways,
It’s very important in my work to solve
that’s pretty powerful. When we think
a problem that I believe I haven’t solved
about slavery, how much more divided
before. The energy has to be in the
could you get?
exploring and finding out if you can
do it. For example, what you see in
One of the things we’re very
this painting is working out that the
conscious of with this exhibition is the
fire represented the destruction of the
language we use in our texts and wall
owner of the plantation. I asked myself
labels, and the tours our docents prepare.
how do I tell a story that is not a part
There can’t be any sense of “them” in
of the text? I can use my imagination.
describing the enslaved people in the
The best example would be opening a
illustration. “Them” implies an “us,” and
novel, starting to read and all of a sudden
we don’t want that.
walking into that space where the writer
That, in a sense, has always been
has provided you with all the places to
my intent, is to keep the art open enough
rest and the place to get excited about
so the reader or the viewer has to take
and all that, and then you find you take
some ownership in what they are seeing.
hold of it.
For me there’s little difference when I
believes in a promise that will be fulfilled,
create my images. I take on a role and
and when you look at the body of my
become every figure in the painting. I
art, you can see my attempt at fulfilling
have to imagine if I’m the person who’s
and instilling that promise of light over
looking out, what would my expression
darkness. You see it in The Legend of
be, what would my body language be,
John Henry and Thylias Moss’s I Want
to give tension to the art? You see this
to Be, and it’s made clear in the final
in Bound for the Other Side. It’s about
spreads of The Old African.
character development—getting the
When I was working on The Old African,
facial expressions and the body language
I felt that in doing the work I had to live
just right so they heighten the drama and
that work through, but it’s difficult to live
visual storytelling. So many elements of
through and Gloria was trying to bring
my art are intuitive, a response to the
me out of it, back to the light. So it was
text. While working, I’m not always sure
that kind of tension because I needed to
I’m conveying what I want to say until the
stay in that place of darkness to finish
art is finished. VALERIO:
Jerry, another element that I
Knowing what it was going to take from
see in your work comes from Gloria, your
me, the editor and I devised this plan
wife, who is a very spiritual person. I can
that I would do half of the book, and
hear Gloria’s voice when I look at some
then leave it to do other things, and then
of your images. Is that fair? There’s a real
come back to the other half. It was only
spiritual, shamanistic dimension to the
when I got into it that I realized I couldn’t
main character in The Old African, who
leave it. I couldn’t break my focus
flies overhead and transforms into a bird. PINKNEY:
because when I would stop and take time off for a weekend or something, I
Yes, that is fair. Gloria’s spiritual
life, her strong faith and sense of
didn’t want to go back to the studio. It
optimism that God will make a way has
was preferable to stay in that place. This
in so many ways influenced the way of
was also unique because I created the art
seeing my life as well as my work. Gloria
in sequence with the story. Oftentimes 37
Bolts of Lightning Leaped Down, from The Old African, 2005, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
I would sort of skip around and maybe do challenging illustrations and then do others. I couldnâ€™t do that with this book. I had to come out of that as the Africans came out of the water. That was the sense. I had to reach for hope. Each piece of art that I complete strengthens my sense of strong connection of black history. In a way that I still donâ€™t quite understand, this shared ancestry allows me to dramatize someone elseâ€™s story, to see its shape and form in my imagination, to move forward toward a promise fulfilled.
A CONVERSATION WITH JERRY PINKNEY
On November 14th, 2019, artist Jerry Pinkney sat down to discuss his work with William Valerio, Woodmere’s Patricia Van Burgh Allison Director and CEO; Rachel McCay, Assistant Curator; and Hildy Tow, Robert L. McNeil, Jr. Curator of Education. WILLIAM VALERIO:
were seen as not exotic enough. One of
Jerry, thank you
for joining us today, and I’m glad we
the challenges for me was how to get
have this opportunity to talk about the
close to their history with very little to
exhibition and the rich history that runs
through your many books, which are so
I started doing my own research about
relevant today. The first book I’d like to
the Igbo for the book. You will hear me
talk about is The Old African, which you
say oftentimes that the stars were in
worked on with author Julius Lester. It
alignment when I went to the Schomburg
goes to a deep place that we all—white
Center for Research in Black Culture.
people, black people—have to come to
Sylviane Diouf, who was on staff, had
terms with, a pain that the centuries of
just gotten a manuscript from John Oriji,
enslavement in the United States has
who is an Igbo historian and Igbo himself.
inflicted and continues to inflict. JERRY PINKNEY:
I contacted John and he agreed to work with me. He became an invaluable
My focus on The Old
African was to paint the Igbo people as closely as possible to how they lived
One of my concerns in entering this
their lives, and the events that brought
project was that I was still viewing it from
about enslavement. The book is about
the other side of the water. I was still
mythology and hope. My intent with the
viewing Igbo culture with the baggage
art was to show the Igbo and their belief
that I carried, and my concern was
practices, which was difficult because we
whether I had a right to visually speak to
don’t know much about them—they were
the Igbo culture and Nigeria. Even as a
not documented, perhaps because they 40
Down to the Edge of the Water, from The Old African, 2005, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
kid, I knew about the Igbo. When I was
with African Americans who grew up in
growing up, we all spoke of the myth of
the South, who see that history so very
Igbo Landing. But who owned that story?
differently than I’ve seen it in the past.
He gave you a bridge...
Yes. So all of a sudden we were
What were some of those
together. I said to John, “I’ll send you all
the sketches. I’m not concerned with you
visiting Tall Timbers Plantation in Georgia,
responding to what’s working. I want
where we took a tour of a tenant home.
you to respond to what’s not working,
We went up this hill, and it was amazing
what’s not right.” The book also helps
because it was made of clay—I didn’t
break down certain assumptions. The
realize that there are certain crops that
assumption that I and other Americans
do very well in clay. It had just rained so
of African descent all have the same kind
we slid around. It was like being on snow.
of thought process is not true. A parallel,
One powerful experience was
We got to this two-room tenant home,
which I hope we’ll get into, is my trip to
and the guide walked us into the rooms,
the South to see and have conversations 41
Go, She Cried, from Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman, 1996, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
the bedroom, or the room where the
was laughter and joy as they were telling
family prepared and ate their meals,
stories, interrupting each other in the
which also doubled as a bedroom. They
most beautiful way. When we left the
used newspapers and magazines to
house it didn’t look the same to me as
keep the wind out—that’s all there and
when we entered.
preserved. The guide played a recording
I needed the trip to come to terms with
of the two sisters and a brother who
my misunderstandings and assumptions.
grew up in that home. We listened to
I had to believe that the atrocities of the
them talk about their experiences in that
Civil War—and there’s no question that it
particular room, and their stories flipped
was a terrible thing that the country had
everything you thought, in terms of the
to go through—were created by people
games they played, the food they ate,
who were fighting for what they believed
because they had to grow everything.
was their cause, and it didn’t necessarily
There was a sense of value that we’ve
mean the preservation of slavery but the
lost—I had a little sense of it growing up
sense that this is my country, this is my
because we made all of our own toys—
state, this is my family.
but that was a powerful thing. There 42
HILDY TOW: PINKNEY:
My way of life.
How did you come to terms with the visuals of the Middle Passage, the
Yeah, this is my way of life.
inhumanity, the suffering and pain?
I wanted and needed to grapple with
Honestly, in reading The Old African, I
every aspect of how people behaved,
was happy for the woman who jumped
which is essential to my process in
overboard because she took her fate into
creating art that interprets this country’s
her own hands. How did you put yourself
original sin. I went there searching for
all those answers. This show and The Old African and Minty, they challenge all
these beliefs that we have, opening up
voice, and sometimes it comes out
a conversation about what’s happening
of a need. I’m privileged to have the
opportunity to speak to my own interests
You have to find your own
and concerns, and I’m passionate about
You’re describing empathy.
uncovering this history. The first thing
For you, Jerry, it was not enough
I needed to figure out is what these
to understand the rich life of these
people might have felt. We can’t escape
tenant farmers—the difficulties and the
those horrid, graphic diagrams of slave
challenges and the beauty—but you also
ship loading plans—Africans chained,
wanted to understand the psychology of
trapped, stowed in the hold of the
the way of life of those who owned these
slave ships. How dehumanizing, how
plantations. That’s hard.
disorienting, how frightening. It looks like
Minty and The Old African take you into
a diagram of cargo. I wanted to break
the homes of people who were enslaved,
through that. I wanted not to replace
and bring them to life as people with
that image, because that’s valid, but also
loves and pains and relationships, and a
to give you some sense that these were
complicated sense of the world. It really
individuals. In my imagination I saw the
takes you to a place that’s often not
enslaved Igbo respond in different ways.
gone to, and maybe not gone to in part
Some people would have showed great
because it’s so hard.
courage, and some would be frozen with fear. Some would cry out in sheer 43
Down Below! Down Below!, from The Old African, 2005, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
anger or confusion. There would have
attract the eye so that people want to
been people praying. To capture those
look at, for example, the hull of the ship,
different responses and emotions was
as opposed to looking away.
important to me. VALERIO:
It’s a dance between portraying the horror and at the same time finding that
This comes from your
balance of color, like the red trousers of
understanding of humanity. TOW:
the mates on the ship.
I was trying to answer the
Your talent for rendering the
figure is very apparent—you’re able to
calling, and at that moment you don’t
depict humans in all their angles and
make choices, you just follow through.
motion, in space and in relation to one
I start with this need to try to say
another. These pictures of the ship’s hold
something. The hope is that by being
are a tour de force of figure rendering.
honest with oneself, others will read that honesty and connect in some way. My hope is that what I’m trying to get across reads well. That’s the role of an illustrator. Tom Feelings illustrated The Middle Passage as well as To Be a Slave, which is also by Julius Lester. He’s done a lot of work on that journey and on slavery in general. He once explained to me that as an artist, in addition to the challenge of making what you feel connect with others, you have to balance the visual horror with how the images are created. There has to be—and he used the word elegance—there has to be a sense of balance of color and line that would
My Spirit Is Leaving Me, from The Old African, 2005, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
He Heard His Last Gasps, from The Old African, 2005, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
His Scent Was Picked Up, from The Old African, 2005, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
Take Him Back, from The Old African, 2005, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
One especially powerful group for me
the architecture of the ship’s hold, the
is when Jaja is crouching down, having
shackles and chains, the rope ladder.
been pulled to the ground because he
is chained to his friend, Ndulu, who has
Jerry, you’ve explained that this
was a process where you had to look
been killed. The humanity shines through
both inward and outward, and you
the horror and tragedy. The intertwined
had to connect with these characters
figures remind me of Italian Mannerist
renderings, and I’m imagining the whole history of art channels into your ability to
make that figurative composition.
that says, “The boy’s wrists were tied so
I read the opening of the spread
that his arms hugged the trunk of the
The book opens with the whipping,
large oak tree.” I remember having a
and the words and the images together
conversation with Phyllis Fogelman, the
made me cry. It was not the words
publisher and editor of this book, and
alone, and it was not the images alone,
saying you can’t open a book with that—
it was how they came together. That’s
there’s no wiggle room for me to present
your other talent: to be able to interpret
the book in a softer way. I begged Julius
the words. Details are important too— 48
They Caught Him, from The Old African, 2005, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
to rethink that opening, because in a
happen. You have a sense of what might
sense when you open a book and you
follow. We had a working relationship
see that image first, it could be off-
where I respected his text, even if I didn’t
putting; the person could close the book
always understand it, and then I figured it
and move on. But Julius in his way says,
“No. I’m not changing it.”
Out of that we got something that
I thought, okay, I know him well enough
neither one of us planned, and Phyllis
to know he’s not going to change it.
Fogelman didn’t plan. Even though
I also know that within that ask, and
my work is inspired by text, and I’m
knowing what the answer was going to
interpreting text, I have to find my own
be, there could be something else that
ownership. That’s one of the things
might be more interesting in terms of
that both Julius and I understand. We
developing this story. I chose to have
both respect each other, and in a sense
the images that fall first set you up so
bounce off one another, creating tension
that if you’re in a bookstore and you’re
and energy in the best possible way. Two
looking at those images, when you get to
voices, one project. Two artists, one story.
that first page you know what’s going to 49
Whack!, from The Old African, 2005, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
Facing Down the Original Sin, from The Old African, 2005, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
It’s a breathtaking moment when you
The mutual respect between
the images and the text comes across.
realize what you were looking at just
I’m glad Julius didn’t change the
before. There’s an extraordinary drama
beginning because I think you read those
in that opening sequence. I would take
opening lines and you’re in it in the most
it even a step back to the cover of the
dramatic way you can possibly be—you
book, Facing Down the Original Sin.
can’t put it down. Just before the first
The cover of the book is the beautiful
page of text you see people watching
figure wading into waters, and water
something, but you don’t know what
is a metaphor throughout the whole
they’re looking at. Then finally, when you
book.- Here the water is bright red,
read the first page, you remember the
and he’s looking out at this image. You
previous image and understand that the
can tell that they’re boats, and you can
owner has made every enslaved person
guess that they’re slave-trading vessels.
watch what is happening.
Judge a book by its cover—this is the 51
first statement of the book. This is a
tall. I could move their limbs around and
declaration of the beauty of the black
I could understand the muscle structure
and all of that. I could hold them in my
left hand, while I drew them with my
Absolutely. Looking at him
right. All the drawings came that way to
from behind focuses our attention. He’s
facing down something, though we don’t quite know what at this point. It shows
When I teach, I tell students that you
up certainly much later in the text. It
don’t want to get to the point where
was an interesting process for me to
you have an idea but you don’t have
show power in the body itself. The back
the resources to execute the idea, so
view, as opposed to trying to deal with
you drop back to something else that
expression, was more about the power
you have a reference for. The fact that
of the body and the sense that he could
you don’t have the reference sometimes
take on anything and everything. The red
means you can be more creative than if
represents blood, but it also represents a
you had all the resources in front of you.
sunset and the West. VALERIO:
I assume you hired a model?
No. I knew that no model could
You said earlier that you had
preliminary sketches, two dummy books, and you did drawings, then you redid the drawings. This book entailed a more
capture what I was looking for. There
elaborate process than usual.
was no way for me to communicate what I was trying to say. I found these small
artist model mannequins at Blick, I think—
African, I was working mainly in pencil
one male, one female—that had muscle
on vellum or tracing paper, and I would
structure. I have a lot of reference books
go back and forth with overlays. In this
on the human body, and over the years
project, I also wanted the reader to
I’ve learned to clothe any kind of nude
understand the process, even though
figure. I can costume them, but none of
they don’t see the process. In my mind I
these things seemed to work until I found
have to think that I’m doing it for more
these models. They’re about six inches
than just me to get to a working drawing 52
In the past, before The Old
Time Disappeared, from The Old African, 2005, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
that I’m pleased with, but also to bring
In all the images where you see a group
a sense of movement, visually breathing
of the captive Igbo, there’s a sense of
life into the figures. This the viewer does
caring for one another. Especially where
see, if I’m successful in the final painting.
there are adults and children, they’re always protecting the children first and
I was also connecting with this need and
foremost. Or they’re always touching
love and passion for drawing. Rather than
one another, holding each other’s hands.
use overlays, I would start with a marker
There’s a sense of dependency on each
that might be a gentle brown, a soft
other as a community.
brown, and I would work up to a darker
This relates to plantation life. One of the
brown, and then maybe a black marker.
ways that plantation life in the United
The life of the work that I do, if we talk
States was different than in South
about life as energy, has to do with my
America or Central America—where the
intent for you to see and understand my
slaves were really just considered to be
process, my struggle, my working out,
objects to be worked—was that in the
my exploring, and the life in the work.
North American states, plantation owners
Top: Time Disappeared, from The Old African, 2005, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist); Bottom: The Old African Led Them Down, from The Old African, 2005, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
needed some sort of family structure
for offspring to replenish the slaves.
work that you’ve done for the National
Oftentimes there were intact families.
Park Service. Can you tell us about the
Minty, Harriet Tubman, came from an
commission for the Booker T. Washington
intact family. That was important for
National Monument in Virginia?
me to show as an African American. It
also challenges this idea that the black
The research for that project
was very intense and involved. To give
family is fractured. Part of my goal is
you an example, one fall day in West
to challenge that. You see that effort,
Virginia we plotted out the direction
especially in the grouping of the enslaved
of the sun so the shadows in my
people. My family’s legacy is that of
watercolors are authentic to a particular
slavery and the South. That legacy is also
day on that planation in Franklin
about strong family bonds. VALERIO:
We will also include
County, Virginia. I had never worked with the National Park Service in this
The sense of physical touch is
visceral throughout the book, whether
way. There was a curator of costumes
it’s holding hands, a supportive embrace,
and architecture who I worked closely
or the image of bodies in the slave hold
with so that every detail is authentic
fitted together like spoons.
and historically accurate. The produce
is the food that was harvested during
There are a number of emotions
that time of year; all of it is authentic. It
and hardships I tried to convey through
was amazing to find research and use
my illustrations for The Old African.
it as an integral part of the illustration.
While interpreting the brutality of slavery
It energized me. Another example of
was challenging, visually expressing the
how we worked together was in the
enslaved Igbo spirit was much more
illustration of the woman stirring stew.
demanding. And yes, as you said, Bill,
I knew that she had to have a utensil to
the sense of physical touch was my way
stir with, so the National Park Service
of showing that spirit—what it is to be
curators sent me a picture of a spoon
and other objects I needed. I was able to hold clothing that slaves had worn. 55
We spent about three days there with a
powerful and moving. My work is also
ranger as our host and guide.
something that feeds the personal self, my curiosity about my history.
I realized while doing the project that park rangers are really historians. They
had discovered a slave burial ground
and the ranger decided to leave that
Who is the white man in the
site off the trail map because he wanted
Most of the plantations in this
area were more like farms. The owners
to respect that space. If you happen
didnâ€™t have huge mansions. The number
to come across it was one thing, but it
of enslaved people varied and at this
wouldnâ€™t be a destination on that trail. I
plantation there was a small group.
felt that was incredibly important and I
At harvest time they needed all the
asked to be left alone with the markers,
hands they could get, so the son of
which were just flat stones. One had
the plantation owner actually worked
a name chiseled into the stone. It was
Young Booker T. Washington, for the Booker T. Washington National Monument, 1995, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
alongside the enslaved people to harvest this tobacco. This was especially common during the Civil War when most able-bodied men, white men, were off fighting for the Confederate Army. TOW:
Many of the sons would have
Sunup, Sundown, for the Booker T. Washington National Monument, 1995, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
been off at war, and he may have been younger or maimed in some way. I see.
In the work Young Booker T.
The man in the center with the yellow hat
Washington, who is the woman coming
is curious to me.
out of the house?
The garments that many
She’s the wife of the plantation
enslaved people wore were left over from
owner. The young boy is the young
the plantation owners—they would have
Booker T. Washington. He’s hauling
been passed down. The top hat might
wood, a function slave children could
seem unusual for a slave to wear, but it
do very well. But everything there, every
actually wasn’t so uncommon.
item, every piece was researched and is
accurate. The kitchens were separated
How were your illustrations
from the big house because of the
reproduced at the site? PINKNEY:
possibility of fire.
They were installed outdoors
Minty probably wouldn’t have happened
and made of porcelain with little beads
the same way if I hadn’t had this
that when fired create the glaze or color.
experience with the National Park
The most interesting thing is they don’t
Service. For example, the author of
proof them. In other words, you make
Minty, Alan Schroeder, wrote that she
the image in porcelain and it works or it
took her doll and stuffed it in her pocket.
doesn’t work, and they either learn from
Somehow that didn’t feel right to me. I
it and then destroy it or keep it so the
called the National Park Service and they
final and successful piece was one of a
said they didn’t have pockets in their
kind. They were also enlarged so they’re
clothing at that time.
bigger than my paintings. 57
He also wrote that they had milk on
National Park Service number 1.” It just
the table, but when I asked the Park
goes on. When they talked about the fit
Service, they said they wouldn’t have
for the cap, I was amazed. I love that kind
had milk. They would have had cider or
hard cider or beer. One project always
ends up feeding into another. When
I’d love to talk more about
your work for the African Burial Ground.
reconstructing historical places or an
Did they give you the names of the
event, revisions are just part of the
Other artists may have problems with
An African burial ground
was discovered in New York, in Lower
that kind of correction or revision, but
Manhattan. Now there’s an interactive
to me it’s always a time to learn. I still
museum on that site. The National
have the notes on one of my drawings
Park Service came to me and said they
for the African Burial Ground National
wanted images of several individuals
Monument in New York. Their notes
who were believed to have been buried
include “Hat should be tighter to head.
there. Yes, they gave me names and little
See additional references for hats from
vignettes about their history and what 58
Left and above: Cuffee, for the African Burial Ground National Monument, New York, 2008, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
they might have been wearing. They used information from things like a wanted poster for an enslaved person who escaped, or a little newspaper ad, but they didn’t have much to go on. There were eight figures all together. MCCAY:
It’s incredible. Is there any other
projects you’d like to talk about, Jerry? PINKNEY:
I’d like to talk about I Want to
Be. When Hildy first mentioned including I Want to Be I wasn’t so sure because it was a departure from where we started out—with the Underground Railroad. But the more I thought about it, the more I saw that I Want to Be and other books like it answer a question Bill has asked me before: How do you talk about these dark moments in American history? You explain it or discuss it with a sense of hope and accomplishment and belief. I Want to Be, by Thylias Moss, does that. Through poetry, her book talks about possibility. After the Emancipation Proclamation, after Jim Crow and the
Top: A Grass Mustache, from I Want to Be, 1993, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist); Bottom: Sometimes, from I Want to Be, 1993, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
civil rights movement, it was then that young people could dream and have
Willie Mae who encouraged me to be
hopes about what they might want to
an artist.” It’s also a story of hope and
be. My dedication in the book reads,
a dream. It’s beautifully written. It’s out
“To my mother. In memory of mother
of print now, unfortunately, but when 60
I Walked Home Slowly, from I Want to Be, 1993, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
it was first published, teachers loved it;
took the girl places and just let her be
it was a runaway pick for assignments.
herself. For example, we took her to a
I remember in one classroom, each
playground and told her to just go play.
student took a Polaroid and attached
it to a piece of paper and then drew
One of my favorite spreads is this
one with the garden.
what they wanted to be around their photograph. I’ve heard stories where it’s
been read at college graduations and at
portrait of me working in the garden.
That’s me! I included a self-
Oh! It’s nice to know that’s a
It’s a wonderful book.
For this book there was a little
It was such a rich experience to
girl who attended my wife Gloria’s church
see this kid be herself. Contrast that with
congregation, and Gloria felt she would
Minty’s childhood and there you have the
be the right model for the project. We
arc of promise.
Shouting through Their Tears, from John Henry, 1994, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
The last thing I wanted to talk about was
be a partner in this, because for Julius
The Legend of John Henry. It was the
especially, who is steeped in history and
first book that I initiated. I suggested to
black folklore, it seemed to me like a
Julius that we collaborate again on the
natural fit. And after hearing me out, he
legend of John Henry and he called me—I
saw John Henry through a different lens.
remember because I didn’t know he was
Near the end of our conversation Julius
going to call me and we had just finished
compared him to Dr. Martin Luther King—
dinner on a Sunday—and asked why was
because they were both martyrs.
I so fascinated with that story, because
His quote in John Henry is that perhaps
he was never really interested in it. That
the connection is that both “had the
was the beauty of our collaborations:
courage to hammer until their hearts
oftentimes we came from two different
break and to leave the mourners smiling
perspectives. He was born and raised in
in their tears.” It’s powerful. The text
the South; I was born and raised in the
takes you on a rollercoaster ride. When
North and this story was so important to
they come out to cheer John Henry on,
my growing up years. We were having
he says that every man has to die, but it’s
this conversation and I was trying to
how you live that matters.
express my excitement to him and trying to convince him that he should 62
Above: A Hammer on Each Shoulder, from John Henry, 1994, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist); Left: This Was No Ordinary Boulder, from John Henry, 1994, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
AFRICAN BURIAL GROUND NATIONAL MONUMENT NEW YORK
The National Park Service commissioned Jerry Pinkney to create images of seven specific individuals who were buried in the African Burial Ground at Duane Street in Lower Manhattan. This is the oldest and largest African burial ground known to exist in the United States, with internments dating from the early seventeenth century to the late eighteenth century. The unmarked cemetery of almost seven acres was discovered in 1991 when workers at a construction site uncovered the skeletal remains of thousands of enslaved and free Africans thirty feet below street level. After extensive research by the National Park Service, the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, Howard University, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and members of New York’s African American community, the site was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1993. The burial ground was named a National Monument in 2006 and received a Preserve America Presidential Award in 2008. Speaking about the images he created, the artist recalls, “I had to divorce myself from the fact that they had been real people. I had to give some sense of that time and the dress, visually honoring and paying reverence to the many souls who were laid to rest there in Lower Manhattan, but I couldn’t let my emotional state get in the way of doing my job. I had to see them as subjects, so even in my own mind, I couldn’t call them by name until after the images were finished.”
Visitor Centers, African Burial Ground National Monument, New York
JERRY PINKNEY American, born 1939
Mary 2008 Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper Courtesy of the artist
JERRY PINKNEY American, born 1939
Peter Williams 2008 Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper Courtesy of the artist
JERRY PINKNEY American, born 1939
Pieter San Tomie 2008 Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper Courtesy of the artist
JERRY PINKNEY American, born 1939
Ameilia 2008 Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper Courtesy of the artist
JERRY PINKNEY American, born 1939
Cuffee 2008 Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper Courtesy of the artist
JERRY PINKNEY American, born 1939
Belinda and her Small Charge 2008 Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper Courtesy of the artist
JERRY PINKNEY American, born 1939
Andrew Saxon 2008 Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper Courtesy of the artist
WORKS IN THE EXHIBITION All works are by Jerry Pinkney (American, born 1939) and are courtesy of the artist, unless otherwise indicated. They are listed in the order in which they appear in the original publication.
TONWEYA AND THE EAGLES AND OTHER LAKOTA INDIAN TALES, 1979 RETOLD BY ROSEBUD YELLOW ROBE Tonweya and the Eagles Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 10 1/4 x 9 3/4 in. Fox the Trickster Graphite on paper, 10 7/8 x 7 3/4 in.
The Bear Was So Angry Graphite on paper, 10 15/16 x 7 3/4 in.
Double Face and Beaver Graphite on paper, 10 7/8 x 7 3/4 in.
Silent, Glistening Ice Graphite on illustration board, 10 7/8 x 7 3/4 in.
She Prayed Badger to Do Her One Favor Graphite on illustration board, 10 7/8 x 7 3/4 in. Wolf Chief Said, My Brother Graphite on illustration board, 10 7/8 x 7 3/4 in. North Wind and Fox Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 10 1/4 x 9 3/4 in.
Tonweya and the Eagles from Tonweya and the Eagles and Other Lakota Indian Tales, 1979, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist).
Left to right: Double Face and Beaver; Wolf Cheif Said, My Brother; The Bear Was So Angry, from Tonweya and the Eagles and Other Lakota Indian Tales, 1979 by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist).
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TEXT BY CHARLES L. BLOCKSON NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, VOL. 166, NO. 1, JULY 1984
Moses Of Her People, 1984 Watercolor and graphite on illustration board, 15 1/2 x 15 in. (image) Underground Railroad Conductors, 1984 Watercolor and graphite on illustration board, 16 5/8 x 16 1/4 in. (image) Eliza Crossing the Ice, 1984 Watercolor, graphite, and gouache on Arches watercolor paper, 15 1/2 x 15 in. Negro Abraham, 1984 Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper mounted on board, 18 5/8 x 12 3/4 in. (image)
Negro Abraham, from National Geographic, 1984, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
DAVIDâ€™S SONGS: HIS PSALMS AND THEIR STORY, 1992 TEXT BY COLIN EISLER David Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 13 3/16 x 9 11/16 in.
The Lord Sent Locusts Watercolor, graphite, and gouache on Arches watercolor paper, 11 15/16 x 8 15/16 in.
With Only His Flock for Company Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 12 1/2 x 20 3/16 in.
The Lion of Judah Watercolor, graphite, and gouache with reductive markings on Arches watercolor paper, 12 3/8 x 9 1/2 in.
David and the Giant Goliath Watercolor, graphite, and gouache on Arches watercolor paper, 12 x 8 15/16 in.
Clockwise from top left: The Lord Sent Locusts; An Owl That Lives Among the Ruins; The Lion of Judah from Davidâ€™s Songs: His Psalms and Their Story, 1992 by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
An Owl That Lives Among the Ruins Watercolor, graphite, and gouache on Arches watercolor paper, 12 1/2 x 20 1/8 in.
Top left: The Young Warrior Is Captured; Maroons (detail), from The Cruelest Commerce: African Slave Trade, 1984, National Geographic, 1992, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
THE CRUELEST COMMERCE: AFRICAN SLAVE TRADE TEXT BY COLIN PALMER NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, VOL. 182, NO. 3, SEPTEMBER 1992 A Man-Child Is Born Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 14 x 9 5/8 in.
Slavery, Day In and Day Out Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 15 1/2 x 21 in.
The Young Warrior Is Captured Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 10 1/4 x 10 7/8 in.
Maroons Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 15 3/4 x 11 in.
Survivor for Sale Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 15 3/8 x 21 in.
FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA: A TREASURY OF AMERICAN FOLKLORE AND FOLK SONGS, 1993 TEXT BY COLIN EISLER Freedomâ€™s Journal Watercolor, graphite, and mixed media on Arches watercolor paper, 10 1/8 x 15 15/16 in.
And People Could Fly Watercolor, graphite, and colored pencil on Arches watercolor paper, 8 1/4 x 6 1/2 in.
Coffin, Mott, and Douglass Watercolor, graphite, and colored pencil on Arches watercolor paper, 7 1/2 x 7 3/8 in.
In Our Time Watercolor, graphite, and colored pencil on Arches watercolor paper, 9 15/16 x 15 15/16 in.
In Our Time from From Sea to Shining Sea: A Treasury of American Folklore and Folk Songs, 1993, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
I WANT TO BE, 1993 TEXT BY THYLIAS MOSS I Walked Home Slowly Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 9 x 16 in. A Grass Mustache Watercolor, graphite, gouache, and colored pencil on Arches watercolor paper, 9 x 7 1/2 in. I Double-Dutched with Strands of Rainbow Watercolor, graphite, gouache, and colored pencil on Arches watercolor paper, 14 ½ x 21 ¾ in. So Strong that a Kite Seems Weak Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 9 x 7 1/2 in. Mars and Jupiter Seem Young Watercolor, pastel, and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 9 x 7 3/8 in.
Above: A Language; Left: Mars and Jupiter Seem Young from I Want to Be, 1993, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
Sometimes Watercolor, graphite, colored pencil, and gouache on Arches watercolor paper, 8 15/16 x 7 9/16 in. Floating on Air Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 14 1/2 x 22 in. (sheet) A Language Watercolor, graphite, gouache, and colored pencil on Arches watercolor paper, 10 x 7 ½ in. I Want To Be All The People I Know Watercolor, graphite, gouache, and colored pencil on Arches watercolor paper, 9 x 7 ½ in.
I Double-Dutched with Strands of Rainbow, from I Want to Be, 1993, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
JOHN HENRY, 1994 TEXT BY JULIUS LESTER When John Henry Was Born Watercolor, graphite, gouache, and colored pencil on Arches watercolor paper, 6 5/16 x 7 3/16 in. This Was No Ordinary Boulder Watercolor, graphite, gouache, and colored pencil on Arches watercolor paper, 12 5/8 x 15 7/8 in. RINGGGGG! Watercolor, graphite, gouache, and colored pencil on Arches watercolor paper, 12 1/2 x 10 5/16 in.
Shining and Shimmering in the Dust Watercolor, graphite, gouache, and colored pencil on Arches watercolor paper, 12 7/8 x 16 in.
You Just Might Hear a Deep Singing Voice Watercolor, graphite, gouache, and colored pencil on Arches watercolor paper, 12 Â˝ x 14 3/8 in.
A Hammer on Each Shoulder Watercolor, graphite, gouache, and colored pencil on Arches watercolor paper, 12 7/8 x 16 in. Shouting through Their Tears Watercolor, graphite, gouache, and colored pencil on Arches watercolor paper; 9 1/4 x 21 1/4 in.
Clockwise from top left: When John Henry Was Born; RINGGGGG!; You Just Might Hear a Deep Singing Voice, from John Henry, 1994, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
Above: Till She Could Touch the Sky; Left: But Someday, from Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman, 1996, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
BOOKER T. WASHINGTON NATIONAL MONUMENT, FRANKLIN COUNTY, VIRGINIA Sunup, Sundown, 1995 Watercolor, graphite, and gouache on Arches watercolor paper, 19 1/2 x 29 3/8 in. Young Booker T. Washington, 1995 Watercolor, graphite, and gouache on Arches watercolor paper, 19 1/4 x 29 1/8 in.
MINTY: A STORY OF YOUNG HARRIET TUBMAN, 1996 TEXT BY ALAN SCHROEDER And, Mist’r, It’s Cold Watercolor, graphite, and gouache on Arches watercolor paper, 12 1/2 x 19 7/8 in. Go, She Cried Watercolor, graphite, and gouache on Arches watercolor paper, 12 3/8 x 20 3/8 in. For a Long Moment Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 12 9/16 x 19 11/16 in.
Minty Hears Her Master’s Voice, from Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman, 1996, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
Come Here, Girl Watercolor, graphite, gouache, and colored pencil on Arches watercolor paper, 12 1/2 x 19 5/8 in.
Young Harriet Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 13 7/8 x 11 1/2 in. (sheet)
Don’t Lie to Me Watercolor, graphite, gouache, and colored pencil on Arches watercolor paper, 12 3/8 x 19 7/8 in.
Do You See That Star? Watercolor, graphite, and gouache on Arches watercolor paper, 12 5/16 x 19 7/8 in.
Brodas Plantation, Blue Sky Watercolor, graphite, and gouache on Arches watercolor paper, 12 1/8 x 10 1/4 in.
No, Missus Watercolor, graphite, gouache, and colored pencil on Arches watercolor paper, 12 5/16 x 19 13/16 in.
Just Look at the Moss Watercolor, graphite, and gouache on Arches watercolor paper, 12 1/4 x 19 11/16 in.
Dawn Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 12 1/2 x 20 in. Don’t Make Me Come Down and Get You Watercolor, graphite, gouache, and colored pencil on Arches watercolor paper, 12 1/4 x 19 3/4 in. Minty Started to Tell an Old Bible Story Watercolor, graphite, gouache, and colored pencil on Arches watercolor paper, 12 1/2 x 19 7/8 in.
Once They Sell You South Watercolor, graphite, and gouache on Arches watercolor paper, 12 3/8 x 19 3/4 in. Working the Fields Graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 12 3/16 x 10 1/4 in. Till She Could Touch the Sky Watercolor, graphite, and gouache on Arches watercolor paper, 12 1/4 x 19 3/4 in. My Name’s Minty Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 12 1/4 x 19 7/8 in.
You’re Doing Fine Watercolor, graphite, and gouache on Arches watercolor paper, 12 13/16 x 19 7/8 in. Go on Now Watercolor, graphite, colored pencil, and gouache on Arches watercolor paper, 12 3/8 x 19 11/16 in. She Had Nearly Reached the Big House Graphite on tracing paper, 11 7/16 x 19 in. Minty Hears Her Master’s Voice Watercolor, graphite, and gouache on Arches watercolor paper, 12 5/8 x 19 5/8 in.
Clockwise from top left: Dawn; Moses of Her People; Brodas Plantation, Blue Sky, from Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman, 1996, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
But Someday Watercolor, graphite, and colored pencil on Arches watercolor paper, 12 7/16 x 20 1/4 in.
Moses of Her People Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 13 3/4 x 11 1/4 in.
Portrait of Harriet Tubman Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 11 7/8 x 9 1/8 in.
UNDERGROUND RAILROAD NATIONAL PARK SERVICE HANDBOOK Bound For The Other Side, 1996 Watercolor, graphite, and gouache on Arches watercolor paper; 19 x 26 7/16 in.
So the Old Man Sat, from Journeys with Elijah: Eight Tales of the Prophet, 1996, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
JOURNEYS WITH ELIJAH: EIGHT TALES OF THE PROPHET, 1996 TEXT BY BARBARA DIAMOND GOLDIN Journeys with Elijah Watercolor, graphite, and gouache on Arches watercolor paper, 14 11/16 x 22 1/16 in.
So the Old Man Sat Watercolor, graphite, colored pencil, and gouache on Arches watercolor paper, 12 9/16 x 20 5/16 in.
The Chariot Carried Elijah Up Watercolor, graphite, and gouache on Arches watercolor paper, 7 3/4 x 8 3/8 in.
Spend the Holiday with Us Watercolor, graphite, and gouache on Arches watercolor paper, 14 11/16 x 22 1/16 in.
Above from left to right: Journeys with Elijah; Spend the Holiday with Us, from Journeys with Elijah: Eight Tales of the Prophet, 1999, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
THE WORLD OF DAUGHTER MCGUIRE, 2001 TEXT BY SHARON DENNIS WYETH The World of Daughter McGuire Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 16 5/8 x 22 7/8 in.
NATIONAL UNDERGROUND RAILROAD FREEDOM CENTER, CINCINNATI Frederick Douglass [older], 2001 Graphite on vellum, 16 1/8 x 7 in. Frederick Douglass [younger], 2001 Graphite on vellum, 16 x 7 in.
Frederick Douglass [younger], for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Cincinnati, 2001, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
LOWNDES INTERPRETIVE CENTER, HAYNEVILLE, ALABAMA Plantation Owner, 2005 Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 19 7/8 x 5 1/2 in.
One of the Faithful (Church Congregant), 2005 Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 18 1/4 x 8 in.
Sharecropper, 2005 Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 14 1/8 x 6 3/8 in. Shopkeeper (Store Proprietor), 2005 Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 11 x 6 1/2 in.
Above from left to right: Plantation Owner; Sharecropper; Shopkeeper (Store Proprietor), for the Lowndes Interpretive Center, Hayneville, Alabama, 2005, by Jerry Pinkney
THE OLD AFRICAN, 2005 TEXT BY JULIUS LESTER A Rope Was Tied Around His Waist Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 10 x 8 in. They Stumbled and Staggered Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 11 1/2 x 18 1/2 in He Heard His Last Gasps Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 10 x 8 in.
They Stumbled and Staggered, from The Old African, 2005, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
Facing Down the Original Sin Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 13 3/8 x 20 1/2 in.
Anytime There Was Pain Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 11 ½ x 18 ½ in.
Them Is Slave Ships Marker on vellum, 12 3/4 x 19 3/8 in.
He Slumped into May’s Arms Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 11 1/4 x 9 in.
His Scent Was Picked Up Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 10 1/4 x 8 in. Take Him Back Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 10 1/4 x 8 1/2 in. They Caught Him Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 11 1/2 x 18 1/4 in. Whack! Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 10 x 8 in.
It Happened So Quickly Marker on Arches watercolor paper, 7 x 11 in.
Down to the Edge of the Water Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 11 3/4 x 18 5/8 in The Captured Ones Leaped to Their Feet Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 10 x 8 in. The Captives Were Pushed Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 10 x 8 in.
It Happened So Quickly Marker on Arches watercolor paper, 10 1/4 x 8 1/4 in. It Happened So Quickly Marker on vellum, 12 1/2 x 18 1/2 in. It Happened So Quickly Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 13 x 20 3/4 in.
They Saw Land, from The Old African, 2005, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
Above from left to right: Look! Bayo Shouted; Welcome Home from The Old African, 2005, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
Down Below! Down Below! Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 11 1/2 x 18 3/8 in.
Bolts of Lightning Leaped Down Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 10 x 8 in.
Time Disappeared Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 11 3/8 x 18 3/8 in.
My Spirit Is Leaving Me Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 11 1/4 x 9 in.
The Old African Was Smiling Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 10 1/8 x 8 1/2 in.
Look! Bayo Shouted Marker on Arches watercolor paper, 12 5/8 x 19 in.
There Was No Fear Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 10 x 8 in.
How Many Want to Go to Africa Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 11 3/8 x 18 3/8 in.
They Saw Land Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 10 1/4 x 8 1/8 in.
And Now Come Marker on vellum, 11 1/4 x 9 in.
No. No. Water! Everywhere Water! Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 10 x 8 in. Be and Endure Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 10 x 8 in. To His Hawkâ€™s Eye Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 10 x 8 in.
Amen! Amen! Everyone Shouted Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 11 1/2 x 9 1/8 in. The Old African Led Them Down Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 11 3/8 x 18 3/8 in. Time Disappeared Marker on vellum, 12 1/4 x 21 1/4 in.
Look! Bayo Shouted Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 11 5/8 x 18 1/2 in. Welcome Home Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 11 3/8 x 9 1/4 in. The Sand Was Crowded Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 11 1/2 x 18 1/2 in.
AFRICAN BURIAL GROUND NATIONAL MONUMENT, NEW YORK Cuffee, 2008 Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 19 1/2 x 11 in.
Amelia, 2008 Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 13 1/2 x 7 1/2 in.
Mary, 2008 Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 19 1/4 x 11 3/4 in.
Andrew Saxon, 2008 Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 19 1/2 x 10 7/8 in.
Belinda and Her Small Charge, 2008 Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 13 3/4 x 14 5/8 in
Pieter San Tomie, 2008 Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 23 5/16 x 11 1/2 in.
Peter Williams, 2008 Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper, 19 5/8 x 7 1/4 in
FROM WOODMEREâ€™S COLLECTION Men of Color, To Arms, c. 1985 Watercolor and graphite mounted on illustration board, 23 1/2 x 17 1/4 in. Woodmere Art Museum: Museum purchase, 2019
Woodmere Art Museum receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.
ÂŠ 2019 Woodmere Art Museum. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission of the publisher. Photography by Rick Echelmeyer unless otherwise noted.
Support provided in part by The Philadelphia Cultural Fund.
Front cover: Bound For The Other Side, from Underground Railroad National Park Service Handbook, 1996, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)
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Master watercolorist and renowned illustrator, Jerry Pinkney (born 1939) is celebrated worldwide. The exhibition focuses on the subject of c...
Published on Feb 15, 2019
Master watercolorist and renowned illustrator, Jerry Pinkney (born 1939) is celebrated worldwide. The exhibition focuses on the subject of c...