Friday, November 21, 2014

Place/Displacement at SOMarts Nov. 20-Dec. 13

Opening Night was really exciting! Lots of people were out despite the chilly cold wet weather. As I drove across the bridge I could barely see. At one point there was a flash of lightning.

I put the blue table cloth on the table along with the catalog for the show, business cards and the art caddy. It was great talking to everyone about their place of birth and his or her ancestry.

The exhibit is entitled: Movement Trails Within and Beyond Diaspora: A Global South Tale. In it we trace our movement from home to other places. Some people left the land of their birth fleeing death, while others were sold or kidnapped from home, never to return until generations later.

The thread represents people's mapping their journeys. I had them start with their place of birth and then locate their ancestors. We had 100 pins, at the end of the reception, 99 were used. There were stories left in the basket that spoke of genocide and refuge, confusion over where the person belonged. One woman said she was adopted by a woman from Manila and she was born in Los Angeles.

One man was from Antigua, with ancestors in England and relatives in Ghana. His wife was born in Hawaii. One little boy was born in Berkeley, but claimed Oakland. His mother told him to choose a country from Africa for his ancestors.
A woman joined us from Kenya, who lives in California now. People traced their ancestry from New Orleans and North Carolina, to Jamaica. We had quite a few people from the East Coast, Buffalo, New York, Boston. I don't think anyone was from Florida. One person was from Cuba. Two from the Philippines, one from Iraq, another from Turkey and another from another place near Iraq (these folks didn't feel like writing so I am trying to recall this from memory.)

We had people with ancestry in France . . . polyglot European mixes, Amsterdam, Italy, England, Spain.
Because the map was abstract, many people didn't see the map until they stepped back and looked more carefully at the work. I had a more traditional map in the binder on the table so that people could orientate themselves, but geographic accuracy was not the goal. Wherever the person felt she belonged, even if the borders or lines were not geographically correct it was okay. We ran out of space along the CA coast so some people had to be in the Pacific Ocean. One woman said she had had a dream about this.
So many people said they were happy the installation was in this show. We had people in line because only one person could map her journey at a time.

One woman was Chinese and European. Another was European and Mexican, but with green eyes and pale skin, red hair when not dyed black, she said she was seen as an impostor by other Mexicans, especially when she spoke Spanish. She knew about post-traumatic slave syndrome and the Maafa. Not many people recognized the photos from the Maafa Commemoration.
Several friends told me they wanted to read my research written on place for my Ecopsychology class at Pacific Graduate Institute. Another woman and I (an artist in the show, whose painting said "home," had a long conversation about African identity in the Diaspora and blackness. The two are not synonymous. She said she felt more comfortable calling herself black, rather than African.
Everyone I spoke to agreed that black people's humanity's survival was because of our spiritual grounding--those African gods who jumped on ships with us, kept us sane and human.
I am looking forward to seeing what other people write and where the lines are drawn while I am away (smile).

All photos taken at the Artists Reception
Photo credit: TaSin Sabir

Friday, November 07, 2014

Wanda's Picks Radio Show, Friday, November 7, 2014

Tracy Porter, University of San Francisco Trustee, joins us to talk about the University of San Francisco (USF) will welcome 60-80 (7th and 12th Graders) under-resourced middle and high school students to campus from Mt. Diablo Unified School District in Concord on Saturday, Nov. 8. He is CEO of Premiere Solutions, a firm connecting businesses with transportation services. He assisted with the launch of the auto brokerage firm Elite Auto Network.

Tracy Porter (center) with Elite Staff
Porter worked with the Johnson and Johnson company’s management, marketing, and sales teams for 14 years. He is a veteran of the National Football League, playing for the Detroit Lions, Baltimore Colts, and Indianapolis Colts.

He received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Louisiana State University and is a graduate of The Wharton Executive Development Program.  This is the 5th annual event of its kind, bringing in prominent African American professionals to speak with students about how they achieved professional success and encourage higher education. Among the speakers slated for Nov. 8: Charles H. Smith, former president and CEO of AT&T West (45,000 employees), Tracy Porter, CEO of Premiere Solutions, and Dr. Clarence B. Jones, attorney and speechwriter for Martin Luther King Jr.

Having the event on a university campus is a way of encouraging the young men and inspiring them to set their sights on college. USF President Fr. Paul Fitzgerald, S.J., will be on hand in the morning to officially welcome the young men to campus.

Following the keynote address by Dr. Jones, CARES students will have the opportunity to attend workshops led by USF professors and Epsilon Beta Boulé members, offering practical tools for academic success and career advice for a variety of professions including teaching, health sciences, marketing, business, and technology.

Victor Fields sings the music of Lou Rawls

The Lou Rawls Project
infuses elements of jazz, soul, and R&B to present a fresh and contemporary approach to the tribute collection. Recorded in Minneapolis, London, Nashville and the Bay Area, the project features a collection of timeless standards such as “The Girl From Ipanema,” “Natural Man,” and “(I'd Rather Drink) Muddy Water” alongside signature staples like, “You’ll Never Find A Love Like Mine,” “See You When I Get There” and the lead single “Lady Love”.  The Lou Rawls Project features producing chores by Fields’ long-time musical collaborator, producer/musician Chris Camozzi, and a coterie of legendary Bay Area artists that include: Nelson Braxton, Brian Collier, Skyler Jett, Vince Lars and others. “My purpose is to celebrate the timeless talent of Lou Rawls and the rich musical legacy that he left behind,” says Fields.

Musi-kongo Malonga
Muisi-kongo Malonga, choreographer and dancer joins us once again to speak about the remounting of her Kimpa Vita! Nov. 14-16, at CounterPulse in San Francisco. Kimpa Vita! is a music, dance and theater narrative told through the dual lens of Kongolese and African American cultural arts traditions, exploring the controversial life of Kongolese prophet and martyr, Mama Kimpa Vita. At the heart of Kimpa Vita! are movement and poetry set to a musical score that layers the wailing cadence of African American spirituals with the textured harmonies of traditional Kongolese song and percussion.

Plot for Peace

We close with an extended conversation with Spanish director, Carlos Agulló, who speaks about Indelible Media's PLOT FOR PEACE, opening on November 7, 2014, at Landmark’s Opera Plaza Cinemas in San Francisco which he will attend for Q&A after the 7:20pm and 9:55pm shows.

The untold story behind History, a well-kept secret behind the world-wide icon : Nelson Mandela’s release was a Plot for Peace. PLOT FOR PEACE is a character-driven historical thriller documentary feature about the demise of apartheid. It tells the story of Jean-Yves Ollivier, alias “Monsieur Jacques”, whose behind-the-scenes bargaining was instrumental in bringing about regional peace and the end of racial discrimination in South Africa.  For the first time, heads of state, generals, diplomats, master spies and anti-apartheid fighters reveal how Africa’s front line states helped end apartheid. The improbable key to Mandela’s prison cell was a mysterious French businessman, dubbed “Monsieur Jacques” in classified correspondence. His trade secret was trust.

Perhaps though more, director Carlos Agulló writes in his notes is Ollivier's example that one person can make a difference, and that relationships are developed over time and that trust is not something that happens from afar, it is interpersonal and up close.

Carlos is part of the lively core of Spanish auteur cinema increasingly being recognized outside its borders. He worked as an assistant editor on The Sea Inside by Alejandro Amenábar, which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film and later as film editor for other award winning Spanish directors such as Mateo Gil (Back to Moira), Oskar Santos (For the Good of Others), Jorge Blanco (Planet 51) and Jorge Sánchez Cabezudo (Crematorium). He has also directed several of his own award-winning short films. The South African documentary PLOT FOR PEACE is his first feature.

Here is a link to the show which ends in an hour long interview with the director: