As part of Rights and Wrongs, challenging the 19th Amendment Centennial Celebration, I want to express legacies of inequity and exclusion stories that coexisted with a considerable expansion of rights for some with the passage of the 19th Amendment 100 years ago. My two works on display, Hall of Fame: Homes of Augusta T. Chissell and Margaret Briggs Gregory Hawkins and "Survival is Survival, Not Just a Walk Through the Rain," are commentaries on the low recognition and preservation of Black women's suffrage history. Many grassroots organizing for voting rights happened due to Black women's intersectional-awareness and productivity, often shunned by white feminist suffrage organizers.
A Statement for Hall of Fame: Homes of Augusta T. Chissell and Margaret Briggs Gregory Hawkins
In the artwork, the neighboring homes next to the abandoned building in West Baltimore, on Druid Hill Avenue, belonged to Augusta T. Chissell (1880-1973) and Margaret Briggs Gregory Hawkins (1877-1969), two Black suffragettes, grassroots organizers who lived in Baltimore City. They fought for the intersectional and comprehensive passage of the 19th Amendment at a time when "women's rights" often meant only white women's rights. They advocated for Black women to gain the right to vote, know the power and responsibility of a vote, and increase voter registration among Black communities, hosting gatherings in their homes, nearby churches, and other facilities.
Like other parts of West Baltimore, Druid Hill Avenue is full of abandoned buildings, ghost facades, and empty interiors of past domestic life and industry. Abandoned buildings are weathered skins of West Baltimore, once owned and occupied by an attractive, Black culture, locally thriving instead of surviving. Old West Baltimore is a nationally recognized and historic district, primarily uplifted by African Americans since the 1890s. Since Jim Crow, Baltimore's local officials began drawing invisible lines systematically, street by street, to shut out Black Baltimore from its favored white spaces. They connected dark skin to insignificance with mass media and systematically segregated maps and significantly small memorial placks. Somehow Black people did more than endure –– they became self-sustaining. They could not wait for their city's government to help them. I celebrate the passage of Black excellence, a power that passed and continues to move through West Baltimore, once recognized as a mecca for Black entertainment, entrepreneurship, political influence, fashion, and community-focused, grassroots organizing.
A Statement for "Survival is Survival, Not Just a Walk Through the Rain."
I created and named this artwork to address two of the many injustices placed on Black women in America: (1) the denial of their impact on reforming this nation's voting rights and (2) the isolation they endured while advancing equal rights for everyone in and beyond their respective communities. Black women fought for themselves when no one else would; they took the hard path to get things done, even if the process happened slowly. In this piece, a Black woman stands alone, surrounded by a hostile, white space, contemplating her next move, pulling from her resolve to keep moving forward. A quote from American author Audre Lorde (1934 - 1992), a feminist, womanist, librarian, and civil rights activist, inspired the title.
Process as Metaphor
I aim to create illustrative mixed media paintings of people caught within, and absent from, real, site-specific places in distress. I also place individuals in and out of hard-edged black and white zones with occasional vignettes, all used as a metaphor for segregation, defiance, and loss. My work embodies a unique strength expounded by the oppressed. A power manifested in resilient peoples, determined to resist erasure and break free of master narratives.
Hall of Fame: Homes of Augusta T. Chissell and Margaret Briggs Gregory Hawkins
Acrylic, charcoal, and digital print on wood panel
"Survival is Survival, Not Just a Walk Through the Rain."
Acrylic, digital print on canvas on wood panel
MCKINLEY WALLACE III
McKinley Wallace III is a mixed-media painter whose art depicts strength expounded by the oppressed and an educator dedicated to cultivating people-oriented environments that foster inclusive community building and high-quality learning.
His studio work has obtained both local and national attention, including solo exhibitions at MICA, Jubilee Arts, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, Creative Alliance, and Gallery CA as well as group shows at De Buck Gallery, Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts, Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute and Cultural Center, Arlington Art Center, Maryland Art Place, Main Line Art Center, ArtReach Gallery at THEARC, Connersmith Gallery, Gallery B, Towson University, Terrault Gallery, Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, Waller Gallery, Palazzo dei Cartelloni in Florence, Italy, and Interlochen Center of the Arts. Wallace has worked as a teaching artist with Access Art Inc. Baltimore Youth Arts, and Interlochen Center for the Arts.
He earned a BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art and has held fellowships with the MICA Office of Community Engagement, Young Audiences Arts for Learning Maryland, and Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance.
In 2019, Wallace was awarded a Maryland State Arts Council’s Individual Artist Award, Bethesda Painting Award, and Betsy Meyer Memorial Award.