“A Choice of Weapons: The New Renaissance Artists” In Celebration of Legendary Photographer Gordon Parks


“American Girl”- Shante Cozier

“I picked up a camera because it was my choice of weapons against what I hated most about the universe: racism, intolerance, and poeverty. I could have just as easily picked up a knife or a gun, like many of my childhood friends did…. most of whom were murdered or put in prison… but I chose not to go that way. I felt that I could somehow subdue these evils by doing something beautiful that people recognize me by, and thus make a whole different life for myself….”- Gordon Parks, legendary photographer

Mr. Parks is also known for his work as a  groundbreaking  musician, poet, novelist, journalist and film director(The Learning Tree). His signature piece American Gothic,” is a black and white photograph of a cleaning woman named Ella Watson standing with a mop and broom in each hand, framed by the American flag behind her.

On April 25, 2012 at the 1199SEIU Gallery African Voices and SAVAE partnered to present a stunning and historical exhibit in honor of legendary photographer Gordon Parks  Cenntennial Anniversary “A Choice of Weapons: The New Renaissance Artists”.

Opening greetings were shared from Bonita Savage, 1199SEIU Gallery, Bread & Roses Cultural Project, Carolyn A. Butts, Founder, African Voices,  Jeanette Curtis-Rideau, Board Chairperson, African Voices, Petula Payne, Founder, SAVAE, Inc. and Patrice Payne, SAVAE, Inc.

Remarks from honorary chairperson Saundra P. Thomas, WABC-TV.

African Voices is celebrating their twentieth year. In honor of this monumental achievement they are presenting a series of events. Under the leadership of Carolyn A. Butts  African Voices has and continues to present innovative cultural and educational events and provide opportunities for the New York City, national and global communities.

“A Choice of Weapons: The New Renaissance Artists: featured 30 artists whose works are inspired by the late, legendary photographer. The exhibit celebrates Mr. Parks’ philosophy that art can be an impetus for change and a transforming experience for both artist and audience. Determined to use his lens to document the beauty of the human spirit, Mr. Parks’ work transcended many boundaries and produced a profound body of art for the world to enjoy.

“Barbie” – Lisa Russell

Featured in this historic exhibit are Opal Palmer-Adisa, Obari Cartman, Bas Clark,  Shante Cozier, Fikisha Cumbo, Renaldo Davidson, Francks Deceus, Shawn Escoffery,  Delphine Fawundu, Kerika Fields, Collette Foumier, Mirlande Jean-Gilles, Clymenza Hawkins, Leroy Henderson, Francelle Jones,  Mireille Liong-A-Kong,  Ka-Son, Builder Levy,  Jasmine Mirrelle, Ocean Morisset, Howard Moss, Tumani Onabiyi, Lolita Parker, Jr., Lisa Russell, Jamel Shabazz, Accra Shepp, Oscar Solis, Marcia Wilson, Mel Wright, and Nathan Yungerberg.

Among all the outstanding works exhibited were Clymenza Hawkins “The Poppy Circle” and “The Guardian”, Mireille Liong-A-Long “Top Locs”, Ocean Morisset “Praising The Lord”, Lisa Russell “Translantic Barbie”, Nathan Yungerberg “Man in Window” and “People in Church”, Mirande Jean-Giles, “Mountain Woman” and Fikisha Cumbo, Mother Illegira Hildargard.”

“Haiti” – Ocean Morissett

The exhibit curators stated, “This was not an easy task. It was difficult choosing from 96 submissions by great artists from as far away as Ghana, West Africa.” “Space prevented the inclusion of all artists.” Artists  in the exhibit represent cities and states including New York City, Spring Valley, Chicago, Miami, Baltimore, Los Angeles and San Franciso. Artists included those exhibiting for the first time and others having showcased in exhibitions worldwide.

“Peaches”-Delphine Fawunda

Thunderous applause followed Poet Laydig Kalibas’ recitation of his  soul wretching and beautiful  poem “Choice of Eyes”, a tribute to Gordon Parks.

We were treated to a special perfomance by the KAPE Band an incredible jazz, soul and R&B band, vocalist Kyle Brown. Kyles’ performance was nothing short of soul stirring. The KAPE Band is definitely a band to keep on your radar! Members, include Brooklyn residents, by way of New Jersey Drew Kresman, Evan Kresman, and Kyle Brown. Currently, The KAPE is embarking on a tour of the East Coast.

Guest comments : Rebecca Miller, “Wonderful seeing everyone together for a joyous occasion.” Anita Beckles, “I love the exhibit.” Attending the exhibit among many others was legendary theater and cultural icon Kojo.

“You know, the camera is not meant just to show misery. You can show things that you like about the universe, things that you hate about the universe. It’s capable of doing both.” – Gordon Parks

The exhibit is open until May 30, 2012 at 1199SEIU Gallery 310 West 43 Street (8th & 9th Avenues). For information call: 212-261-2210, 2211(1199SEIU Gallery),  212-865-2982 (African Voices)or 718-314-0766 (SAVAE).

To contact and to learn more about:

African Voices:   www.africanvoices.com or 212-865-2982.

SAVAE, Inc.        718-314-0766

The KAPE Band: thekapemus@gmail.com

©Lorraine Currelley and The Currelley Literary Journal 2012. Unauthorized duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.



2 thoughts on ““A Choice of Weapons: The New Renaissance Artists” In Celebration of Legendary Photographer Gordon Parks

    • Thank you, Mahek Sabharwal for visiting The Currelley Literary Journal (blog)! Your kind words, support and encouragement is appreciated! I am humbled by your kind words! It’s a great joy when ones words are read and appreciated.

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