© 2004 E.Vern Taylor
The idea that I come from somewhere further
than my mother and my father seems more real to me than it ever did.
As an African American I have learned a lot more from and about my heritage
than I would have, had I not pursued this series of paintings I have
entitled "A Lyrical Fantasy of My Personal Africa, Kilimanjaro:
the Serengeti, Along the Underground Railroad." Working with this
series has sharpened my awareness and captured my attention, causing
me to delve deeper into my heart for answers that lay below the surface,
as if just out of reach; and, it has strengthened my pride as a person
of color, as a member of the family of man, and as a human being.
The world is facing turmoil as it heads
into the 21st Century, and all of the factors which have brought us
to this present plateau, I am hoping, have been the transitional "growing
pains" of a society searching for its real identity in relation
to its potential. In figuring myself into "this madness" we
call society, with the question being "where do we go from here",
my demeanor is and, as far as I can remember, has been a compassionate
one. The things I feel, see, have seen, would like to see, embrace,
and respect, all stem from my fortunate upbringing - a normal, abnormal,
regular, irregular making of a life. My belief in humanity comes from
this nurturing; and, in trying my wings out, when learning to fly, was
afforded the knowledge of creativity, surely a blessing to me.
What I tell, in my "story", stems
from the quality of life I came to believe in, and aspire to. We have
a duty to one another which we've let flitter off, pondering limpidly
by the wayside. It is up to us to bear our banners and fill in the missing
pieces of the puzzle which keeps our "entity" moving toward
a more healthy existence. When I think of the Earth and how our living
is changing it, I most naturally wish for its rejuvenation because this
is, my brother and my sister, an incredibly beautiful planet we live
on. Do you not agree? And it is all we have, as far as I know, or have
Since I've become aware, my knowledge suggests
to me that, for some time, the most densely populated part of our beautiful
planet has been the continent of Africa. Her inhabitants, man and beast,
knew a respect and love of our world, and lived accordingly. Life in
its essence, as I know it, was defined out of the Mother Land. To me
it is where freedom knew no boundaries. The landmarks are phenomenal,
her treasures abominably desirable. Her inhabitants, of soaring spirit,
and her magnificence unfettered. A gorgeous part of the Earth, blessed
thusly with a life's fulfillment of the sweet essence of all that was
pure. Her vastness and scope of elegantly enormous proportions. And
should I be asked how I would live in harmony, my most deeply felt and
inspired longing would be to experience the freedom of roaming the Serengeti
Plains, and to know the majesty of becoming as Mount Kilimanjaro, a
freedom of almost immeasurable heights. This is what we all have the
potential to become, I feel in my heart, if we could just realize our
abilities and our dynamic.
The significance of my heritage beckons me to expand on the value of human tragedy which I still feel in my life, and is a part of the sickness we experience today. "Slavery reared its ugly head" for nearly 400 years in the United States of America, and the ramifications of its aftermath are still a part of our well being. For some reason, we cannot seem to realize (along with those who do not want to) that our unified efforts to bring about change should strengthen our "world life" (for lack of a better term). As a part of this, I am trying to understand in order to bring about a solution to my problem of being able to exist in harmony, and a reasonable facsimile of decency and decorum, with the present day environment we all must endure. I feel that our struggle to survive is always at odds with our existence - " where it is that, where it is that we are, where it isn't that we could, where it is that if we did , etc., etc., etc." Where do we go from here?
Indications are that we advance in a positive direction; but, when I see events such as the ones happening today, it makes what I aspire seem futile. I always felt and thought that we are trying to make this a better place, rather than "Hell on Earth." And in feeling a part of the "madness", "we" need to wake up and realize our potential, rather than wallowing in the dregs of historical precedent. "Create something new!" Maybe we're too afraid to go forward and try to create the harmony a change of heart could bring. I don't know. Within The Grand Design, why do those of us who care about humanity and World welfare see the necessity for dramatic, positive change? Maybe there is only frustration and more devastation waiting for us, I don't know that either - no one does. But, our efforts in a positive direction are worth more than the negative ones; and, the fact is, Blacks are thrown the negatives more than the positives.
The condition of our bondage in this country
came about due to necessity (a human condition). When the idea of an
industry of Slavery rolled around, greed inspired its perpetuation.
Luxury was its impetus, and convenience of spirit insured its mainstay.
It is not that guilt still has to be carried or we still carry the burden
(which seems to be the continuing debate in a lot of cases), but we
haven't had the time, as a viable force, to develop as an equal force.
And considering how the "powers that be" came to be, rather
than try wondering about "this and that", and what could be,
or what might be, in my estimation, it is best to move on and develop
something positive and honorable, out of something almost completely
opposite of that, as it stands now in this country. In looking around,
my eyes, ears, emotions, and my reasoning see an America that is still
not ready for the change it would take, to make this truly a great,
thriving country, and it may never be so. It may not want to give harmony
a chance, with a change of heart - ("or, it's a long time coming").
With my Kilimanjaro Series (as I have endearingly
come to call it) I am attempting to present my interpretation of the
impact and significance of Slavery and the Underground Railroad on my
life. The pain, anxiety, my desire for our choice to build a better
"societal environment", and, yes, even the belief I have in
humanity and our potential to bring ourselves around figures into "this
("my") picture." Still, today, we, as African Americans,
find ourselves in a society which still wants to predetermine a "lesser
lot in life" for us. The difference of black and white casts a
grey area over the whole of humankind; and, the fact that our blood
is a large, integral factor of this country's greatness is the same
factor which is tearing it apart. There are a lot of wonderful African
Americans - we are not buffoons. We live and breathe and sit down to
Dinner just like most folks do . . . And until our recognition is truly
encompassed, the problem will continue to exist. The greatest masterpiece
will not be on canvas, in a particular medium or genre, but will be
one of absolute harmony - brother to brother, and it will take a change
of heart to bring this about, plain and simple. Only then will priorities
fall into place.
With an artist's feelings, I will say our
country has been an entity, following its natural course since its conception.
If things are born to die, then our course is steady and our end is
inevitable, as sure as we anticipate it. "The ugly that God don't
like" could rear its head ten times over, but I venture to say
that good will eventually be victorious and triumphant, however. We
have gone through a lesson in growth and maturity; again, so that we
may move toward a more positive unification of our maximum success.
I do feel this can be accomplished and it depends on each and every
one of us to make it work.
This is where I am with my Lyrical Fantasy, presently. Our journey along the Underground Railroad is part of the lifeblood of this country. Where we go from here and what we do with the incredible Gift of life lies, entirely, in our true hearts.
God watches over us. And we want him to, for our own protection. To save us from ourselves.
E. Vern Taylor