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FREEDOM’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


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FOREWORD

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historical document, owned and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

the artist.

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


magazine’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

accomplishments.

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 Pinkney’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

enslavement.

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 Name’s Minty, from Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman, 1996, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)

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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 I’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.

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Floating on Air, from I Want to Be, 1993, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)

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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

JERRY PINKNEY:

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

CHARLES BLOCKSON:

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,

Cannon family.

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

PINKNEY:

mother’s home state.

interesting way of working. It’s two-

VALERIO:

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

passage. BLOCKSON:

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

BLOCKSON:

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?

PINKNEY:

But you led the fight.

VALERIO:

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

years! 12


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

together children.”

people come from someplace distant, a VALERIO:

long way.

travels from one figure out to the next

PINKNEY:

It’s the journey.

VALERIO:

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:

BLOCKSON:

It reminds you of what they

Yeah, and you captured that,

Jerry.

had to go through. PINKNEY:

You can see how the strength

PINKNEY:

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

written?

trying to enter into an understanding

BLOCKSON:

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

VALERIO:

BLOCKSON:

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 wasn’t published in the article in the

meeting point was just twenty minutes

end.

from where I grew up. PINKNEY: HILDY TOW:

Yes, that’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


BLOCKSON:

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

PINKNEY:

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

TOW:

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

did it.

blocks, jumping from one to another, in

PINKNEY:

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.

VALERIO:

VALERIO:

Who is the people reaching out

That is a visceral image, and a

visceral story. I love the way the man’s

a hand?

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

BLOCKSON:

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Underground Railroad

goes into the ground—that’s the safety,

PINKNEY:

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

bodies.

is a photojournalistic magazine. They

PINKNEY:

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

TOW:

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.

BLOCKSON:

You captured it, Jerry, that’s

perfect. I’m not sure if I’ve seen this before.

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Underground Railroad Conductors, from National Geographic, 1984, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)

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BLOCKSON:

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.

PINKNEY:

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

BLOCKSON:

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

beginning. 18


BLOCKSON:

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,

VALERIO:

“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

Railroad. VALERIO:

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

PINKNEY:

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)

20


BLOCKSON:

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

Philadelphia.

at Northampton, Massachusets at R. Michelson Galleries, I was signing books

VALERIO:

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

family.

this slice of history is even more relevant in today’s racially fractured times. VALERIO:

Right down the road in

BLOCKSON:

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,

Abolition Hall.

whether it stimulates my mind. That might be different for you and me, and

VALERIO:

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


BLOCKSON:

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?

22


Bound For The Other Side, from Underground Railroad National Park Service Handbook, 1996, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)

23


PINKNEY:

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

VALERIO:

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

PINKNEY:

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.

PINKNEY:

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

BLOCKSON:

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?


PINKNEY:

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


BLOCKSON: VALERIO:

It’s going to be popular, too.

VALERIO:

Jerry, we’d like to ask about

your work for the African Burial Ground

I’d love to ask you a question,

National Monument.

Mr. Blockson, as a historian. How do you explain the Middle Passage to children,

PINKNEY:

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

BLOCKSON:

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

VALERIO:

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

dressed.

at my work, you’ll see a sense of balance, so it isn’t all one thing. For The Old

BLOCKSON:

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

and joyous.

Episcopal Church in New York.

26

He started the African


Peter Williams, for the African Burial Ground National Monument, New York, 2008, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)

27


PINKNEY:

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.

LESLIE WILLIS-LOWRY:

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


TOW:

Her name is Mary.

DIANE TURNER:

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

Colonial Philadelphia.

City—where they were part of a series

BLOCKSON:

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

PINKNEY:

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

BLOCKSON:

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

30


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.

BLOCKSON: VALERIO:

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

31


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,

nature.

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

the Americas.

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

TURNER:

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


TOW:

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

VALERIO:

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

as well.

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:

It’s powerful.

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.

34


To His Hawk’s Eye, from The Old African, 2005, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)

35


VALERIO:

Yes, we’re living in a fraught

BLOCKSON:

moment where the country is divided.

respect.

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

VALERIO:

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.

PINKNEY:

36


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:

the work.

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)

38


I would sort of skip around and maybe do challenging illustrations and then do others. I couldn’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 don’t quite understand, this shared ancestry allows me to dramatize someone else’s story, to see its shape and form in my imagination, to move forward toward a promise fulfilled.

39


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

work with.

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

resource.

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.

VALERIO:

He gave you a bridge...

PINKNEY:

Yes. So all of a sudden we were

VALERIO:

What were some of those

differences?

together. I said to John, “I’ll send you all

PINKNEY:

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

there?

all those answers. This show and The Old African and Minty, they challenge all

PINKNEY:

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

today.

opportunity to speak to my own interests

VALERIO:

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)

44


45


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.

Your compassion.

PINKNEY:

VALERIO:

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)

46


He Heard His Last Gasps, from The Old African, 2005, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)

47


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

TOW:

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

individually.

renderings, and I’m imagining the whole history of art channels into your ability to

PINKNEY:

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,

out visually.

“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)

50


Facing Down the Original Sin, from The Old African, 2005, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)

VALERIO:

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

male body.

and all of that. I could hold them in my

PINKNEY:

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

me.

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?

PINKNEY:

No. I knew that no model could

TOW:

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

PINKNEY:

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

53


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)

54


needed some sort of family structure

RACHEL MCCAY:

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

PINKNEY:

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

PINKNEY:

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

human.

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

TOW:

had discovered a slave burial ground

background?

and the ranger decided to leave that

Who is the white man in the

PINKNEY:

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

didn’t have huge mansions. The number

to come across it was one thing, but it

of enslaved people varied and at this

wouldn’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)

56


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.

TOW:

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?

PINKNEY:

The garments that many

PINKNEY:

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

MCCAY:

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

of detail.

hard cider or beer. One project always

VALERIO:

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

deceased?

process.

PINKNEY:

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)

59


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

TOW:

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

PINKNEY:

been read at college graduations and at

portrait of me working in the garden.

That’s me! I included a self-

funerals. VALERIO:

Oh! It’s nice to know that’s a

VALERIO:

It’s a wonderful book.

self-portrait.

PINKNEY:

For this book there was a little

PINKNEY:

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.

61


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)

63


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.”

64


Visitor Centers, African Burial Ground National Monument, New York

65


66


JERRY PINKNEY American, born 1939

Mary 2008 Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper Courtesy of the artist

67


68


JERRY PINKNEY American, born 1939

Peter Williams 2008 Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper Courtesy of the artist

69


70


JERRY PINKNEY American, born 1939

Pieter San Tomie 2008 Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper Courtesy of the artist

71


72


JERRY PINKNEY American, born 1939

Ameilia 2008 Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper Courtesy of the artist


74


JERRY PINKNEY American, born 1939

Cuffee 2008 Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper Courtesy of the artist

75


76


JERRY PINKNEY American, born 1939

Belinda and her Small Charge 2008 Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper Courtesy of the artist

77


78


JERRY PINKNEY American, born 1939

Andrew Saxon 2008 Watercolor and graphite on Arches watercolor paper Courtesy of the artist

79


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).

80


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)

81


DAVID’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 David’s Songs: His Psalms and Their Story, 1992 by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)

82

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.

83


FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA: A TREASURY OF AMERICAN FOLKLORE AND FOLK SONGS, 1993 TEXT BY COLIN EISLER Freedom’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)

84


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.

85


I Double-Dutched with Strands of Rainbow, from I Want to Be, 1993, by Jerry Pinkney (Courtesy of the artist)

86


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 ½ 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)

87


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.

88


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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)

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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 Hawk’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.

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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 WOODMERE’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

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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.

Š 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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Profile for Woodmere Art Museum

Freedom's Journal: The Art of Jerry Pinkney  

Master watercolorist and renowned illustrator, Jerry Pinkney (born 1939) is celebrated worldwide. The exhibition focuses on the subject of c...

Freedom's Journal: The Art of Jerry Pinkney  

Master watercolorist and renowned illustrator, Jerry Pinkney (born 1939) is celebrated worldwide. The exhibition focuses on the subject of c...