William Watson Hines speaks in Ethiopia

William Watson Hinds describes the works he lent to an AIE exhibition in Addis Ababa.

Full Transcript

0:12 HINES: My name is William Watson Hines III I’m visiting the American embassy in Addis
0:19 Ababa because I have the pleasure of loaning some art to the Art in Embassy program. I
0:27 came from New York to see how my children as I call them were being handled and there
0:35 are 16 pieces in the loan here in the ambassador’s residence. One of … they all have significance
0:47 because they are related to African American culture and art in the States.
0:54 The piece that I’d like to first start with is this piece by Romare Bearden called Roots
1:01 and you can see by Roots that Romare did this piece for the TV Guide Alex Haley as you recall
1:13 wrote the story and this piece was developed for on the front page of the TV Guide. You
1:24 can see that in the background we have a man looking across the waters and at the bottom
1:33 of the painting is a slave ship with slaves being taken over to the New World and then
1:41 you have the white birds flying around and then you have a map of Africa with the sun
1:49 in the background. Hopefully Romare’s trying to say that the sun will be setting and that
1:54 will end the whole of slavery. This piece was done back in the 1970s when Alex Haley
2:07 wrote his story about Roots and his family.
2:12 William Smith had the motivation to do this piece called saluting Martin Luther King called
2:19 We Shall Overcome. He executed this piece back in 1968. Smith was of course an Afro
2:30 American artist who worked in Cleveland and produced quite a few of these images of activities
2:37 of local men local Afro American men.
2:44 There’s another piece across here by Smith called Poverty and Fatigue by a man who had
2:53 had a rough time. The other piece that Smith did was this one called Poverty and Fatigue
3:01 and it was done also about the same time that he did the piece saluting Martin Luther King.
3:09 Smith lived from was born in 1913 and died in 1987 and this was done and this was a piece
3:18 that we included in the loan.
3:20 These are two pieces here who were important men during the this is by (unintelligible)
3:28 the Harlem Renaissance period. This man here was the one who helped found the NAACP were
3:38 from Atlanta.
3:42 This is another significant piece this piece was done by Charles Alston and is called Deserted
3:47 House a lithograph of course. Alston, like many of the Afro American painters, during
3:56 the 30s when things were hard received a scholarship from the Work Projects Administration the
4:07 WPA and the artists were because they couldn’t find activities to work to do they were paid
4:14 to paint different aspects of life, cultural life of America.
4:40 Walking Blindly is the next piece here done by Ms. Catlett and you can see the lady here
4:47 is raising her hands up this one sleeping looking down and the man is as if he’s out
4:52 of it. Ms. Catlett did this in 1992 and I would suggest that the minorities are so religious
5:02 so they are speaking to god all mighty. As I said, this is called Walking Blindly.
5:12 This the piece that we are looking at now is one called Dancing that Elizabeth did for
5:25 Stevie Wonder. And you know who Stevie Wonder is Stevie Wonder is a singer and he signs
5:35 since he’s a blind singer this is his signature here, his thumb. The dance was for the Wonder
5:44 Foundation. What Elizabeth did was commissioned for him.
5:54 Betye Saar had a difficult time dealing with racist mentality of white establishment there.
6:10 This piece is called Hoo Doo Dollhouse and Aunt Jemima according to the racist black
6:20 image of that blacks were happy to smile and laugh a lot. Betye decided she would attack
6:28 them and developed this piece. She was a painter who went around the city picking up pieces
6:38 of art that she would make into art and this was her attack on helping fight the racist
6:48 problems that we have in the States. As you know we unfortunately have some racism that
6:54 still exists and the artists many of them are in the forefront of fighting the establishment
7:00 to get rid of some of this negative mentality.
7:07 Another piece by Elizabeth Catlett that is called Harriet. Harriet was busy as you can
7:14 see pointing that she was busy freeing the helping take the slaves out of bondage, using
7:21 what was called from the South up north, the Underground Railroad and she worked through
7:28 the whole thing. Luckily she was not captured because if she were captured probably her
7:33 master, the white slave master, probably would have…
7:47 Artists are not supposed to have favorite pieces. Of course, I have a favorite here
7:53 and that’s Two Generations that Elizabeth, Ms. Catlett did. It’s called Two Generations
8:01 and she did it in 1979 and you can see the grandmother and son represent the generational
8:11 gap that she explored. Many Afro Americans are blacks are slaves
8:26 are after slavery were supposedly became sharecroppers. The white slave owners hired the blacks to
8:35 work on property and they were called sharecroppers. This lady had obviously had a rough day and
8:42 this expression here she’s looking out to see about the crops. It’s one of her more
8:50 famous pieces that’s been around for quite a while.
8:58 The next piece that we’re taking a look at is called Latch Key Child by Elizabeth
9:03 Catlett. It’s significant because the parents are frequently not at home when the children
9:10 come in from school, they are busy working or something so what she has expressed here
9:15 is that this child is sitting waiting to go home and the key here, that’s why we call
9:21 it the Latch Key Child. This one was done in 1988.
9:26 Across the way here is just another of Catlett’s pieces called Madonna II and this is a serigraph
9:40 and she’s holding the child and we think maybe some African significance with the headband
9:47 that the Madonna is wearing. Of course the child is looking out into space.
9:52 The piece here it shows four characters in song and the lady here on the right is praying.
10:17 Religion has played an important part in the African American tradition and this is Singing
10:24 Their Songs, an expression of people singing one of the spirituals or hymns that blacks
10:29 are noted for. Remember we looked at the a piece by Romare
10:43 Bearden. This is a second piece in the collection called The Family which Romare did in 1975.
10:53 The family is sitting around the dinner table.
11:19 Jake Lawrence did this piece called Harlem Street Scene which he did in 1975 and you
11:28 can see the activity on a Harlem street with movement, people and we have the kids playing,
11:38 drawing something. The little girl is getting ready to jump rope, the character here with
11:45 his guitar the music and the old guy is walking out for to see his friends. Sometimes we wonder,
11:53 there’s a lady here, whether or not she is a business woman or just what she might
12:00 be involved in but this shows the characters that would appear according to Lawrence in
12:06 a street scene in Harlem. Thank you.