© 2004 E.Vern Taylor


© 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 heard of.

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.

Collectively, we have no dignity. I for one have become ashamed of this country and what it has become. We abuse our world by feeding it junk food. A diet of a lot of things that are bad for it, making it sloppy and sluggish with all of the detrimental aspects of positive progress. We enjoy the convenient lifestyle and the affluent easiness conducive to clogged arteries and strained hearts, and our remedy is so simple. So simple, it's a shame it is not utilized for our own good. We should learn from our mistakes and progress onto a level of greater ability. It would be, to me, quite an interesting achievement for world peace and harmony. A time when we can all lay down our worldly burdens and go on and live as, indeed, truly generous human beings. We could then see what could be accomplished in that light of events. A dream, I know, but that's how everything starts.

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

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