I Am America: Black Genealogy Through the Eyes of an Artist

On Sunday, November 20, 2011, members of AAGSNC and the community at large joined for a reception to celebrate the exhibit I Am America: Black Genealogy Through the Eyes of an Artist.  This exhibit, which features the ancestors of three AAGSNC members, is being run from November 5, 2011 to February 2, 2012 on the third floor of the San Francisco Main Public Library at 100 Larkin Street in San Francisco.

I Am America commemorates the Black citizens and families who contributed to the making of America immediately before, during and after the Civil War.  The exhibit also revisits the role of the continual slave revolts in the making of America.”
– San Francisco Main Public Library Website

Some time ago, exhibition curator, Kheven LaGrone, attended an AAGSNC meeting to talk about his plans for creating this awesome exhibit. Me, and AAGSNC members Melvyn Gillette and Judith Collins had ancestors that were featured.  Mixed media artist Tomye rendered a piece on behalf of Melvyn’s family while painter Makeda Rashidi created a beautiful portrait of Judith’s great grandmother.  I created a mosaic of my great grandfather, Louis Balfour Atlas, Sr., using photos of his more than 170 descendants.  Ironically, the painting of Judith’s great grandmother and the mosaic of my great grandfather were exhibited right next to each other. Storyboards with information about slave revolts and genealogy were also on display.

AAGSNC members Judith Collins, Melvyn Gillette, artist Tomye, AAGSNC member Nicka Smith, and artist Makeda Rashidi

Artists featured in the exhibit are: Alice Beasley (quiltmaker); Inez Brown (mixed media); Karen Oyekanmi (doll maker); ; Malik Seneferu (painter); Marion Coleman (quiltmaker); Morrie Turner (cartoonist); Nate Creekmore (cartoonist); Nena St. Louis (sculptor); Nicka Smith (mixed media); Orlonda Uffre (painter); TaSin Sabir (mixed media); Todd King (mixed media); Tomye (mixed media)

The event had nearly 100 people in attendance and featured a small panel moderated by Nancy Thompson with the genealogists and the artists.  Be sure to head to San Francisco to check out the exhibit before it closes!  For photos, please view the gallery below.

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