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Tar Paper Flowers

15 January, 2018

Last weekend at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art I saw Angela Drakeford‘s piece titled Tar Paper Flowers. A framed collage of tar paper made into beautiful textural flowers presented in a gallery titled All or Nothing. Drakeford has said the piece is a commentary on race and beauty in America. How something can be dirty and disgusting (tar) and really beautiful in colour and material at the same time. Since today is Martin Luther King Day I thought I would share this beautiful piece of artwork.

In the decades since Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous I Have A Dream speech we are still tormented as a country by the issue of race. What surprised me about this particular piece of art is how beautiful it was at first glance and yet how it was constructed by a material, tar, that has a negative connotation. American culture and politics has certainly shows this duality in the last year. We have had some of our darkest times in government and some of our most beautiful grassroots movements like the Women’s March and Times Up. 

I am hopeful that we will continue to use the tar of these dark times to construct something poignant and beautiful the way Drakeford has with her art. Civic engagement and art is such a beautiful and thoughtful way to reflect on our history and charge into our future. This particular piece of art gave me hope that we must look at the dark shadows in today’s America so we can re-work ourselves, our justice system, our politics to create a fair new future. 

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art houses 2,500 pieces of American Art from colonial art to present day. It is the foremost collection of American Art in the world, free to the public, and presented in chronological order. A visit to the museum is a walk though American history, culture and art; showcasing American’s unruly, ingenius and optomistic growth.

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is to great a burden to bear.”

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

tarpaperflowers.drakeman

 

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