Childhood Memories has been a lifelong project. It started in the early 80’s when I realized that during the fifties and sixties in the small town of Island Creek, Maryland, USA, where I grew up, was a very sheltered, supportive and loving community. The Ways of Jim Crow were not obvious to the innocent naïve minds of children whose parents protected them from the ugliness of the world at that time. However, the assassinations of Rev. Martin Luther King and President Robert Kennedy were a prelude for me to the ugliness of the Vietnam war that thrusted my two older brothers into a place where our values were totally contradicted. This would cut through our community with grief and anguish as one by one young men came home in metal boxes never to be seen again.
The example our southern rural parents set for us gave me a template for teaching my own children. Often I referred to a very special place and time where our playground was a palette for creativity. Although we sometimes imitated our parents, teachers, preacher, and neighbors, we often played the roles that were uncommon to blacks from the rural south. We played doctors, lawyers, astronauts, engineers, architects and business owners. In the games we played, mothers were leaders and builders. These creative possibilities gave rise to a utopia for living that somehow entwined my remembrance of being a child.
The housing in this small community was as diverse to me as the people who lived there. Each had its own energy and visual appearance. The energy of my home was vibrant with color, textures, and wonderful aromas. Father embellished the landscape around the house with paint, stones, and shells. He built benches, swings, ball fields and gardens. Mother cooked to share, embellished with flowers and decorated for every holiday.
The childhood memories series reflects the mood and spirit of this small community which can be seem all across the south of this country. While black families fought for social justice, they also embraced their child with love, compassion and a protective cover shielding them from the evils of the world. These dioramas depict the images of homes and families most often visited by my family in Island Creek in my early years. However, today all of these homes have been torn down or changed totally. This project is a commemoration of the people and the time in with they lived.