“Montgomery on My Mind”

People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically…No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in –Rosa Parks

My colleague, Dr. Ramona Hyman, always has “Montgomery” and its rich Civil Rights history “on [her] mind.” Thanks to her, I have Montgomery, Alabama on my mind too as I prepare to spend a couple of days there with her and several Huntsville educators “Revisiting the Montgomery Bus Boycott.” The educators are working on integrating this piece of history into their K-12 classes. I have a different research agenda–as I’m thinking through a project on women’s involvement in critical moments in history.

Today is a perfect time to share some of the Rosa Parks postcards in my collection. I’ve had them for quite some time, but now that I’m thinking about Montgomery, it’s an appropriate time to share.

Many people know about her contribution to American civil rights and history, but just in case you don’t know–Rosa Parks is considered the “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement.” Her refusal to give up her bus seat to a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama on December 1, 1955 “triggered a wave of protests that reverberated throughout the United States.” The boycott lasted for more than a year and ultimately catapulted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. into national prominence. The boycotts led to the U.S. Supreme Court decision outlawing segregation on city buses.

Here are three related postcards from my collection:

The “Rosa Parks Bus” at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan

From the postcard back:

Montgomery City Bus 2857. Originally built in 1948 in Pontiac, Michigan, Bus 2857 was operated by the Montgomery City Bus Lines in Montgomery, Alabama from 1954-1971. Rosa Parks was riding this bus on the evening of December 1, 1955 when she was arrested for not giving up her seat to a white man. This incident sparked subsequent civil rights protests, especially the boycott of Montgomery’s bus system. The Montgomery Bus Boycott was the beginning of a revolutionary era of non-violent mass protests in support of civil rights in the United States. The yearlong boycott kept Montgomery’s [black population] off all buses until December 1956 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the segregation of public transportation was unconstitutional. Bus 2857 was retired and sold in 1971. After sitting for 30 years in a field, the bus was purchased by auction by The Henry Ford [Museum} and has been restored to appear as it did in 1955. The bus is now on display in the Henry Ford Museum.

You can find more details about the purchase and restoration of the bus here: Restoring the Rosa Parks Bus.

Rosa Parks arrested for refusing to yield her seat to a white man.

The postcard, featuring the familiar image of Parks being fingerprinted, comes from the Women Who Dared collection sent to me during Women’s History Month several years ago. The sender added a Parks quote:

Each person must live life as a model for others. –Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks (1913-2005)

The art above is part of the “Celebrating Women” banners that were on display at The Lower Eastside Girls Club’s Celebrate Cafe in New York City when I visited several years ago (2010, maybe?). If I remember correctly, each banner was created by a young woman who was involved in the Club.

You can find out a lot more about Rosa Parks by reading her biography on the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute website. You’ll find that she was much more than the woman who refused to give up her seat.

“A Hymn for Montgomery 55” by Ramona Hyman
from her collection, In the Sanctuary of the South

Holy, holy, holy: a hymn of praise
For prophets framing freedom
In Montgomery 55: Strange fruits marching–some
Walking, some crawling–some…

Holy, holy, holy–a hymn of praise
Emptying itself
Americans: black and white; hand in hand
Saintly sighing a freedom song of praise

Holy, holy, holy–the march raises
Into victory: freedom swells, the flag: separate
And unequal shreds into the face of anxious
Soldiers–black and white jumping the broom
Into a new day–the Civil Rights Movement begins

Lessons From Dad

In my Mother’s Day post, I mentioned I had a Love Notes postcard earmarked for Father’s Day.

We learn just as much from our fathers as we do from our mothers. Sometimes, the lessons are the same, sometimes very different.

My penfriend Eileen V. wrote a list of 10 things her father taught her on the back of a postcard featuring a beautiful lavender field.

“Look for a quiet place and take your time and space to grow your own dreams.” –Zen Wisdom

She writes:

My father taught me:

  1. to enjoy traveling and enjoy nice food
  2. to learn languages
  3. to take up conversation with strangers and foreigners
  4. to listen well
  5. to play tennis
  6. to go sailing
  7. to read lots of books and play Lego
  8. how to tie a bow
  9. to enjoy and cherish silence/quietness/tranquility/solitude
  10. to respect life, animals and nature

You may have already read about my awesome dad in a tribute I wrote a couple of years ago, but in case you need a reminder, here’s a succinct list of some of the things I learned from my father.

  • You have a “right” to your own truth. Speak it.
  • Don’t quit. Stick it out. Finish what you start.
  • Get a formal education and never stop learning.
  • In any way you can, be there for family and friends.
  • Question everything.
  • Take care of your things.
  • Argue your point, but don’t lose friends over it.
  • Celebrate life and accomplishments.
  • Take time for music. Don’t just dance or sing along; listen to it
  • Be a good, honest person and look for the good in others.
  • Know your worth and accept nothing less.
  • When the going gets tough, get tougher.
  • Relax the rules sometimes. A donut for breakfast every once in a while won’t hurt. 😉

So many essential lessons, and that isn’t all, of course!  What have you learned from your father?

To all the fathers reading this–

[the only way you’ll find “me” cutting grass–in a bitmoji] 😀

Re-liberating the Re-liberated Art

Well, I promised I’d be back with a post on the bonus Liberate Your Art package I received.

At the end of the LYA blog hop, Kat held a giveaway for participants in the hop. As noted on her blog, by random drawing, she gave away:

  • One 6×9″ fine art print of this year’s final celebration image, “Art brings Light to the World”
  • One copy of the second edition of her book, Art with an iPhone: A Photographer’s Guide to Creating Altered Realities, which was published at the end of 2017.
  • Eight packets of postcards from other participants. These were extra postcards participants sent to give to Kat’s helpers on “swap day.” There was a lot of love and appreciation left over.

Guess what! I won a set of postcards!

I know you want to see the “bonus” postcards. Right?  Be sure to read to the end because my blessing could become your blessing.

There was an eclectic set of seven postcards in the envelope–one a duplicate of a side swap, one similar to a side swap, and the rest new to my eyes. Here they are:

Natasha P’s “Peony Party” was featured in yesterday’s blog post.

“Peony Party” by Natasha P.

So was one of Janice’s angels–though this one is different.

“Winging It” by Janice D

Check out my previous post to find out more about these artists and their work.

The first “new to me” piece was made by Jennifer Calvin.

“What Is It?” by Jennifer C

Have you figured out what this is? It’s handmade paper! Jennifer makes paper. How cool is that? You can find all sorts of paper and other artsy stuff she makes at Wild Oaks Studio.

The next one was made by Karen J. It’s a mixed media project that won first place at the Ohio Montgomery County Fair.

“Variety” by Karen J.

What is the art made of? According to Karen:

the underlying paint is acrylic. Attached are various round items including: giant checkers, backgammon blots, tiny spools, buttons, tiddlywinks, jewelry pieces, slices of a huge woody vine from my backyard, faucet handle.

The next postcard came from L. Hudson, I assume.

Art by L. Hudson?

I have no information on the art or the artist, but the person included an email address and a printed message on the back:

Now go make something happen with your art!

Carolann  shared a multi-view card featuring scenes from Western Ireland.

“The Best of Ireland” by Carolann M

Carolann dedicated this year’s card to:

the beauty of Western Ireland and the open hearts of its people. It is truly the land of a thousand welcomes [and] to the Moores of County Mayo Ireland [family].

I like that phrase, “a  thousand welcomes.” She added a blessing, of course:

May your heart and your art be filled with Irish blessings.

Last, but not least, a lush autumn scene shot by Nick H.

“Autumn Glory” by Nick H

Nick writes–

This card is from a scene from the area where I am lucky to live in Yorkshire.  I enjoy traveling and making new friends around the world but I especially love to come home to this beautiful part of England.

Yorkshire is indeed beautiful. And if you know how much I ❤ autumn, then you know that you might see this photo again in a few months.

Now that this art has been liberated by the artists, again by Kat, and liberated again by me, I want to liberate the art even more! The postcards need writing and postal marks, evidence that they’ve traveled. Don’t you think? Sooooo, I’m sending these out into the world AGAIN.

Two are already claimed–I promised a friend the peonies and I’m keeping autumn (sorry, not sorry). 😉

That means the other five are up for grabs! If you want one, let me know in the comments. I’ll write a note and send one on its way to you. First come, first served. No strings attached.

Happy Day!

My Mother Taught Me…

If you were paying really close attention, you probably noticed (and then quickly forgot) that I hadn’t posted the postcards I received for Love Notes 22 prompt 3. At first, I hesitated because I wanted to include my partner’s last response in the blog post, but then, I decided the post should wait for Mother’s Day, a perfect time to share responses to the prompt, “My mother taught me…”

Based on postings in the group, the last prompt had many of the participants contemplating deeply the role(s) their mothers played in their lives. For some, this was a painful exercise–because of mothers who were absent, abusive, or deceased. But even then, they acknowledged that they learned something positive from their mothers.

I received four postcards from Love Notes friends in response to the prompt–Christine B, Litsa L., Lisa C., and Eileen V. Eileen’s is earmarked for Father’s Day, but here are the others:

Cape Blanco Light, Port Orford, Oregon

Christine’s mother taught her “to be loving, supportive, and compassionate.” Christine writes, “She’s still teaching me to be positive; that’s been a hard lesson.”

Telephone Booth

When Litsa asked her daughter what she learned from her, her daughter told she taught her “to be kind.” Litsa learned that from her own mother and adds that her mother also taught her resilience: “Just carry on. What else is there to do?”

“Love,” Photo Postcard By Lisa C.

Lisa C’s mother taught her:

There’s only one happiness in life, to love and be loved.

It’s interesting how all three postcards depict images that serve as metaphors for mothers–a light guiding us safely home; just a phone call way; regal in her role as mother doling out love generously.

I  enjoyed this prompt because–in case you haven’t figured out by now–I love talking about my parents. I sent a list letter of ten (plus one) things my mother taught me:

  • Be kind. If you can help a person, do so—no questions asked.
  • Don’t judge. Love people for who they are and don’t expect them to “be like you.”
  • Let it go. Life is too short, so don’t hold a grudge and don’t waste energy on trifles.
  • Hold your head high. You are somebody in this world. Know your worth, even if others don’t.
  • Take it to God. Don’t unload your burdens on mere humans who can’t handle the load.
  • Take time daily for prayer, meditation and scripture.
  • Keep a clean house.  (I’m still working on this one).
  • Always feed the children. Have food, snacks, and treats available for all children who visit.
  • Have your own bank account.
  • Celebrate every birthday.
  • Bonus: There is incredible strength in silence.

It was hard not to write 100 things!

What have you learned from your mother? Let us know in the comments below.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Art Brings Light: Liberate Your Art 2018

It’s time for the Liberate Your Art 2018 (LYA) Blog Hop!

Finally, the moment is here to share the art I received and sent for the LYA swap this year. Some swappers share all along, but I like the anticipation, the suspense leading to the day “all” the art is revealed. Then, I spend the weekend perusing the mini art galleries.

Here are the 2018 LYA stats:

804 pieces of art liberated
134 artists
10 countries
31 US states

I’ve participated in the Kat Sloma’s swap for the past seven years and every year I reunite with “old friends” and meet new ones. For the swap, participants send five postcards to Kat who mixes things up and sends the postcards–adding her own–into the world over a two-week period. After all the postcards have been swapped, sent, and received, we have a swap party–blog hop–which started today and ends Sunday.

The theme of this year’s blog hop is “Art Brings Light to the World.” That feels appropriate because there is light and beauty in each of the postcards I received.

I received six pieces of art and liberated five pieces.

“Yellow Woman,” Art by Jan

This was the first postcard I received. I don’t know enough about art techniques to guess, but I’ll guess anyway. 😀 Do I see evidence of stamps, stencils, or collage as well as paint and pen?

Although the artist did not sign her name, she left a strong statement–“Desire Art”–or is it the name of her studio?

“Child’s Play,” by Kathy Mc

Kathy and I had decided to side-swap before Kat started sending the postcards, so imagine my surprise when her postcard was the second one I received.  She altered a magazine image with acrylic, oil pastels, monoprint, and stamping.  It looks like children playing with bubbles!  You can find more of Kathy’s art at Sol Sister Studio on Facebook.

“The Holiest Mountain”

From Ireland, another pleasant surprise–a postcard from JMIrishArt, my Instagram/blogging friend, whom I met via LYA.  The postcard features her digital art print of Croagh Patrick, Westport, Mayo, Ireland. JMIrishArt works with various media. You can find out more about her and her art on her website: JMIRISHART.

A Streetcar Named St. Charles from Kris McNeil

Needless to say, it was heart warming to receive this snapshot from home, New Orleans. This shot made me long for a nice long ride down St. Charles on the street car. We’ll have to remember to take a ride the next time we’re in New Orleans.

Kris, who lives in Houston, Texas, has an amazing photography blog right here on WordPress. Be sure to check out her blog or any of the other places to find her:

From “sunny  Florida”–a colorful manipulated photo:

“Vertical Landscape,” by Annie

According to her note, Annie typically photographs landscapes, flowers, sunrises, and sunsets. Lately, she’s been exploring more abstract work, focusing on shapes, shadows, and the unexpected.  She details how she created this piece:

This piece is from a sunset photo where a corner of a building also caught my eye. It was cropped, rotated, duplicated and transformed with several phone apps.

And finally, Kat’s piece:

“Anomalous” by Kat Sloma

As usual, Kat’s art closes out the swap. No matter how beautiful, soulful, or provocative her postcard is, we greet it with a bit of sadness. It means the swap is over and we have to wait a whole year to celebrate again.

I am intrigued by the boldness of this piece, and when I flip the card over to see what Kat stamped on the back, I find that the message reflects the image:

Indeed.

And thank you, Kat, for your work and heart. You’ve not only helped many of us find the courage to share our art but you have connected us to each other and created a community of beauty, light, and heart.

Here’s my liberated art:

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I shot all the photos between April 2017 and February 2018. They all have stories that I’ll share some other time, perhaps. One was featured on the blog last year, and one was shared widely for “Yellow Flowers for International Women’s Day 2018.” Can you guess which? 😉 I have a few extras of each, so if you’re interested in “side-swapping,” let me know in the comments or via email (use the contact form on my “About Me” page).

One more thing–you must check out the LYA 2018 video with a sampling of the art submitted. [I’m not in it because I didn’t have a bit of mental energy to think about which photo to send. Eek!]

If you want to see more, click the link below and jump into the blog hop (scroll to the bottom of the post). While you’re there, sign up for next year! You know you want to.

Matisse’s Icarus: Fall From the Sun

I mentioned in my post a couple of days ago that my student Courtney sent two postcards, and the second arrived before the first. I received the first postcard today!

It appropriately detailed (as much as can be squeezed onto a postcard) her early musings about her life in France. And it features one of my favorite French artists, Henri-Émile-Benoît Matisse.

Henri Matisse, “La Chute d’Icare”

If you’ve been following my blog for at least a few years, you might remember my sharing the work of 16 little Matisses that imitate his collage style.

La Chute d’Icare [The Fall of Icarus], from Matisse’s “cut-outs” period of his late career,  illustrates the tale of Icarus, the son of Daedalus who ignored his father’s warning and with wax wings flew too close to the sun. Matisse masterfully captured Icarus’ fall through the sky to the sea.

Courtney might know I have a ‘thing” for Greek mythology (re)interpreted in art and literature. Here are a few Icarus poems worth reading:

I think I’ll write a poem this weekend that recasts the story of Icarus in my own way. I already have a title, “Fly, Baby, Fly.”  I’ll include it in my reply to Court.

The Final Three Sister Writers of the Harlem Renaissance: Gwendolyn Bennett, Helene Johnson, and Dorothy West

I’m wrapping up the writers from the Sisters of the Harlem Renaissance postcard collection today with three women who led long  and productive literary lives–Gwendolyn Bennett, Helene Johnson, and Dorothy West.

Gwendolyn Bennett (1902-1981)

Gwendolyn Bennett, best known for her striking poetry largely composed during the decade of the 1920s, was actively involved in African American culture and the arts community over twenty years. Following graduation form Brooklyn’s Girls High, Bennett planned to become a graphic and visual artist. She entered Teacher’s College, Columbia University, taking courses in Art Education; in 1924, she graduated from Pratt Institute. While studying art, Bennett also wrote poetry; she was soon successful in both media. In 1923 Opportunity published her poem “Heritage,” and The Crisis carried a cover which she illustrated. In August of 1926, Bennett began the “Ebony Flute,” a literary and social chit-chat column featured in Opportunity until 1928. Also in 1926, Bennett served on the editorial board of the short-lived Fire!! where “Wedding Day,” her first published short story, appeared. Despite frequent absences from New York, Bennett belonged to the close-knit Harlem Writers Guild. She was a friend and associate of such figures as Langston Hughes, Aaron and Alta Douglas, Countee Cullen, and Zora Neale Hurston.   –Sandra Y. Govan

For more information on Gwendolyn Bennett’s life, writing, and art, see the following resources:

Helene Johnson (1906-1995)

Helene Johnson, like her cousin Dorothy West, was one of the youngest of the Harlem Renaissance poets. Born in Boston, she first visited New York in 1926 to accept Opportunity‘s First Honorable Mention prize for her poem “Fulfillment.”  After moving to New York in 1927, she met prominent Harlem Renaissance literary figures, including Zora Neale Hurston, who became her close friend, and Wallace Thurman. Thurman published one of her poems, “A Southern Road,” in the only issue of his journal Fire!! About one-third of Johnson’s poems treat themes of  youthful sensuality and the joy of life; racial themes dominate many others. From 1925 through the mid-1930s, Johnson’s poems appeared regularly in periodicals such as Opportunity, The Messenger, Palms, Vanity Fair, Harlem, Challenge, ,and Saturday Evening QuillAnthologists of the Harlem Renaissance have continued to include her works in their collections of Black American literature.  –T. J. Bryan

Interestingly, it was difficult finding more about Helene Johnson online.  The New York Times featured a rather detailed obituary with comments about her writing, excerpts from her poems, and the beautiful testimony of her daughter that even after the height of her literary career, she wrote a poem every day.

Dorothy West (1907-1998)

Dorothy West, one of the youngest writers drawn to Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance, first came to New York in 1926 because she won “some little prize in Opportunity” for her short story, “The Typewriter.” Additional short stories (which she considers the perfect literary form) appeared in Opportunity, The Messenger, Boston Post, and Saturday Evening Quill during the 1920s. In 1934 she founded and edited Challenge, a literary journal, “to permit new Negroes to make themselves heard,” and in 1937 she edited a reincarnation of that quarterly, New Challenge. Her important novel, The Living Is Easy, was published in 1948 and reissued in 1982. For a number of years she wrote  a weekly column for the Vineyard Gazette. –Phyllis Rauch Klotman

For more on Dorothy West, see  the following resources:

Initially, I was surprised to find that the brief biography on the back of the card did not mention West’s most popular novel, The Wedding, which was made into a television movie. Then, I realized the publication of the Sisters of the Harlem Renaissance collection preceded the novel. That Dorothy West continued to write her entire life and that her novel was published in 1995, when she was 88 years old, is clear evidence that age should not be a hindrance in the pursuit of our goals.

Write on…