There are moments in our lives when we are forced to listen to a compelling inner voice. The voice of “The Journey,” a series of artwork that has been nestled inside me for decades, had to be heard. At the close of a military funeral and a 3-gun salute honoring my cousin, a Marine named Vincent Dyer, I was handed a folded flag. His wife Julia left the flag with me, somehow knowing that the story wasn’t over and much more needed to be told. There it sat in its original box for 35 years.
After completing the first in a series of exhibits featuring other works from “The Journey” series, I sat at the edge of my bed exhausted. The process of painting this series was the most cathartic, enlightening, and darkest period of my life. Yet the work was incomplete. What would be next? My brushes and paint called me from the depths of the ocean to speak on behalf of my ancestors. I was moved to listen and to channel their fate through my hands. With the first stroke of my brush onto the flag I was overcome with a complexity of emotions. First there was a feeling of discomfort - - being so close to this symbol of “American Freedom” - - all bought with the lives and spirits of millions of my ancestors. Then it became a personal quest. It was a mission to uncover even more about my history as an African American man. With that, I needed to pay tribute to other African Americans who throughout time have continued to speak for the voices from the depths of the sea.
On July 4th, 2018 I completed the painting. I set my brush down and raised the flag up. I heard the words of Fredrick Douglas echo within my soul. This art is dedicated to him and to a nation of Black Africans strewn across the belly of the ocean...
“Evidence comes from a slave society, before the rise of the abolitionist movement.
More came from Captain Hugh Crow, who made ten slaving voyages and wrote
from personal observation that sharks have been known to follow vessels across the ocean,
that they might devour the bodies of the dead when thrown overboard.”
The bodies of tens of thousands of injured, dead or rebellious African Slaves were tossed overboard into the vastness of the ocean only to meet an inhumane and gruesome fate.
This shark represents the atrocities that befell millions of African Slaves as they were violently ripped from the motherland and brought to the Americas over hundreds of years.
The dates in the body of the shark refer to pivotal dates in the history of the Slave trade and the plight of Black Americans since.
The dates are worthy of your personal research.
This painting, entitled “400” was painted and completed in August of 2019. It is a critical component in a series of paintings called “The Journey.” It commemorates the 400th year of the abolishment of slavery and the continued struggle of Black Americans across the country.