Creative Inspiration, Stories My Father Told Me

Creative Inspiration: Stories My Father Told Me (re-post)

Today in the U.S. it is a National Holiday – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

This holiday is also known as the MLK Day of Service:

The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Jan. 20, 2020, marks the 25th anniversary of the day of service that celebrates the Civil Rights leader’s life and legacy. Observed each year on the third Monday in January as “a day on, not a day off,” MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities. The Corporation for National and Community service has been charged to lead this effort for the last quarter century. (nationalservice.gov)

I am re-posting a blog post from April 2016 from my ongoing series on on my sources of Creative Inspiration, in honor of MLK Day, about a person I knew personally, my father Raoul A. Davis, Sr., who lived a life of service.

My father’s stories, words and lessons keep me centered and focused, and they inspire daily just like those of Martin Luther King, Jr. 


Friday Night at Barnes & Noble Bookstore: A Discovery (April 2016)

Life is filled with serendipitous events. Several Fridays ago such an event occurred.

wild Friday night in Central Oregon involves hanging out at the local Barnes & Noble bookstore. I love browsing in bookstores. I love bookstores, period. They are nearly as magical as libraries (except the discoveries at bookstores are not free to take home!)

While browsing the magazine section of Barnes & Noble, I came across a magazine I had not seen before – American Craft Magazine (and I thought I knew all the magazines in the “crafting” magazine section). This magazine is published by the American Craft Council.

Flipping through this magazine I found an article on an exhibit by the WCQN (Women of Color Quilting Network). I did not know, as a woman of color, that there was a Women of Color Quilting Network! I made a mental note of the acronym and immediately upon returning home I googled the WCQN.

The WCQN , according to their website “is a non-profit organization founded in 1985 by Carolyn L. Mazloomi, a nationally-acclaimed quilt artist and lecturer, to foster and preserve the art of quilt making among women of color.”

Wow. What a discovery for me!

I contacted the Director of WCQN, Dr. Carolyn L. Mazloomi, to find out how I could join.


WCQN Inspiration

After several wonderful exchanges with Dr. Mazloomi, I am now a member of the WCQN. I had the opportunity to view her website, www.carolynlmazloomi.com and view her amazing art. I also spent a considerable amount of time looking at the the WCQN website, www.wcqn.org, and viewing their past exhibitions (www.wcqn.org/exhibit.html).

I was overwhelmed with inspiration to explore an additional direction in my art quilting – telling stories with my art quilt.

The WCQN art quilts poignantly share stories from a people of color’s perspective and shared experience.

Wanting to explore this theme in the future, I am inspired to create a future series of art quilts called Stories My Father Told Me.


Stories My Father Told Me

My father, Raoul A. Davis, Sr. was an amazing man. He passed in 2008, and left behind a legacy of stories and inspiration.

Born of the 4th of July, he was the son of two teachers and grew up the segregated South (Charleston, West Virginia) in the 1930s. He faced many hardships and challenges but always forged ahead to achieve his goals and dreams. He was the first black to attend Kiski School in Pennsylvania, received a bachelor’s degree from Central State University, and obtained his master’s degree from Columbia University. He also served his country in the US Army.

He served as a leader in the nonprofit sector for over 40 years. His service included working with gangs and underprivileged youth as a Social Worker in NYC; founding the Urban League of Long Island, NY; and creating the first Empire State Black Arts and Cultural Festival (today known as the African American Family Day Art Festival).

He retired as the Deputy Commissioner for the Office of General Services for the State of NY. In his retirement he volunteered and consulted for local nonprofits and community agencies.

His resume was impressive, but what I remember most about him is his stories.

Starting from my earliest memories as a child, I remember him telling me stories of his challenges growing up in the segregated South, stories of his athletic pursuits (he was an accomplished multi-sport athlete), stories about the intense hazing he received as the first black to attend Kiski Prep School, stories of overcoming shocking physical and psychological abuse in the US Army in the 1950 by his drill sergeant, and many other inspirational stories from his life.

IMG_3380IMG_3375IMG_3371IMG_3381

A couple of years before he passed he decided to write his autobiography and I offered to help him by transcribing his handwritten notes and pulling them into a rough draft. It was so wonderful to read the stories I knew well from hearing in my youth; and I was honored to help him with this project.

Unfortunately my father passed before finishing his autobiography. I did take what I had and make it into a book for my sister and brother (two incredible individuals who continue my father’s legacy and inspire me daily); and for his grandchildren (one of which he did not get to meet before he passed).

I am still left with all his stories in my head and in my heart, and I think I want to share them in another medium beyond the verbal and written word: in my art quilts.


His Stories into My Quilts

I am in the early stages of thinking of how I want to translate some of my favorite stories into a textile story – will I do something abstract, or will I do a pictorial quilt (time to brush up my appliqué skills!).

An ongoing theme in all his stories is: Here is a challenge, it may seem impossible, but you can overcome it!

One of my favorite stories that my father told me, is a story from his growing up in the segregated South and a bus ride experience that embodied his outlook on dealing with racial prejudices:

As a teenage in the 1940s, I was riding on the bus and a white guy was forced to sit next to me because no other seats were available. He turned to me and growled – “I hate you, you  #%%$%%!”  

I calmly replied to him “Well, you would like me if you got to know me”. 

We ended up having a great conversation and when we got to his bus stop, he exclaimed as he exited the bus: “Raoul, you are alright”.

My father likely did not change this man’s racist outlook on people of color, but he may have left an imprint in this man’s mind and heart to evaluate people based on their character not their color.

My father, who was also active in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s and fortunate to have met Martin Luther King, Jr., believed in focusing on getting to know each other as individuals and not judging an entire group or population.

He believed change came through dialogue not violence. He taught his three children to be brave, no matter what adversity life threw at them; and to as Mahatma Gandhi said “…be the change you wish to see in the world”.

He also taught us to be proud of who we are as individuals, as a people and of our heritage, and not to listen to those who tell you otherwise.

“I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.” – Gandhi

I would be honored to share his stories through my quilts.


Postscript (11/16/16)

In Spring 2016, I  begin the Stories My Father Told Me series with quilt #1 – The Lesson & The Equation, discussed in the post Stories My Father Told Me: Quilt #1 .

IMG_2079
The Lesson & The Equation (2016) by Tierney Davis Hogan

I’ve been sketching out the next quilt in the series.

(This quilt was part of the nationally traveling exhibit “Visioning Human Rights in the New Millennium: Quilting the World’s Conscience“, see post Visioning Human Rights in the New Millennium – Book is Released! )

MLK-Day
virtualvocations.com

 

Stories My Father Told Me, Studio, WCQN

The Lesson and The Equation

I’ve been waiting to share this with you for quite a while. First, I needed to wait until the show’s curator gave me permission to share, and then I needed to be ready to share.

I am ready to share!

This post is an overdue follow up to my post Creative Inspiration: Stories My Father Told Me, originally posted in April 2016. You are welcome to read the original post but here is a synopsis of some of this post and a little bit of additional information:

While browsing the magazine section at our local Barnes & Noble bookstore in March 2016, I came across this magazine that I’ve never seen before: American Craft Magazine:

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Image credit: craftcouncil.org

In the April 2016 issue of American Craft they had an article about an exhibit, And Still We Rise by the Women of Color Quilting Network (WCQN).  I never heard of WCQN and immediately knew I wanted to join! 

I reached out to Dr.Carolyn Mazloomi, founder of WCQN, shared my blog links with images of my work and asked if I could join and she said yes.

I then spent a lot of time looking through the WCQN website and was inspired to create a series based on the incredible stories my father, Raoul Davis, Sr., told me while growing up – Stories My Father Told Me. 

I shared this with Dr. Mazloomi and she invited me to participate in the next WCQN show. (I was terrified and wanted to say “No” but I made myself say “Yes”)

The Lesson & The Equation

The WCQN show that I was incredibly lucky enough to be invited to participate, was based on the United Nations (U.N.) Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Participants had to select one of the thirty (30) Articles in this declaration and make a quilt inspired by the Article.

I selected Article 1 as it aligned with the lessons and values my father taught us as children:

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

I’ve shared partial images from the quilt I created, which is the first quilt in my series Stories My Father Told Me. Here is a full image of the quilt, courtesy of Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi, and below the image is my Artist Statement.

Article 1_TierneyDavis.jpg
Image courtesy of Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi

ARTIST STATEMENT

The Lesson & The Equation (2016) 50 x 50 inches
Applique, cotton, batiks, quilted

“Article I: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” – U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article I of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights resonates the values that my father instilled in my siblings and me, as young children. My father grew up in the segregated South in the 1940s and embraced at an early age that change comes from respectful dialogue, not violence.

He taught us that regardless of what adversity we faced in life, we must face it with grace; and treat others with respect, dignity, and brotherhood. The foundation for a life lived embracing the values illustrated in Article I, begins at home, modeled and mentored by the adults in a child’s life. (THE LESSON)

In this quilt, a father (modeled after my own father in the 1970s) is teaching his children, on the main blackboard, THE EQUATION to achieving a world in which people are Free and Equal: Reason + Conscience = Spirit of Brotherhood

The two individual blackboards, “Dignity” and “Respect”, are the building blocks of the Free & Equal equation. I am from a family of educators, beginning with my great-grandfather. The blackboards in the quilt honor that legacy.

My father also taught us another key lesson, which is best expressed in the words of Mahatma Gandhi: “I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet”.

WCQN Show

This quilt will debut in the WCQN show, Visioning Human Rights in the New Millennium: Quilting the World’s Conscience, on August 17, 2018 at the FiltonCenter for Creative Arts in Hamilton, OH.

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Image credit: ohio.org

Yes I will be attending the opening in August and there are no words I could type that would convey my excitement to be participating in this important exhibit. I am feeling very blessed to have been given this opportunity.

There will also be a book that accompanies the exhibit and Dr. Mazloomi’s books are incredible. Search “Carolyn Mazloomi” on Amazon to see a sample of books related to past exhibits. I own several of these books and to call them “inspirational” would be an understatement.

Below is an example of one of the books from a WCQN exhibit (which is currently touring):

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Image credit: schifferbooks.com

And Still We Rise: Race, Culture and Visual Conversations is on exhibit at the Freedom Center until September 1, 2018 – here is thelink if you would like to check out more information on this exhibit.

I had the opportunity to finally meet Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi in person this past September when I attended Quilters Take Manhattan (see post The “Dance Partner” – Michael Cummings at QTM 2017). I tried not to behave like too much of a “fan girl” but I was completely in awe of this amazing and accomplished woman.

What is Next?

I mentioned in my post Art& Fear, etc., I was struggling with two looming art quilt deadlines.

One of those quilts is for my local SAQA group annual show which I have started (will share in upcoming post); and the other one is a new art quilt for the next WCQN show I have been invited to participate in. I cannot share the details at the time, I need to wait until the curator is ready to officially announce the show – but it is another really exciting opportunity!

With the first quilt done in the Stories My Father Told Me series, I have mapped out the next 6 – 8 quilts in the series based on stories from my father’s life and lessons he taught me.

I just need to start making them (and if I win the lottery I plan to work full-time on completing this series)…


Postscript

I think my whole experience demonstrates that you have to take risks in life and when an opportunity comes to your door – take it!

“Go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is.” — Jimmy Carter

Imagine if I never contacted Dr. Mazloomi? (Of course imagine if I never randomly opened that magazine at my local Barnes & Noble…thank you Universe!)

Creative Inspiration, Stories My Father Told Me, WCQN

Creative Inspiration: Stories My Father Told Me (re-post)

I am re-posting a blog post from April 2016 from my ongoing series on on my sources of Creative Inspiration. I am dealing with the “strife” that fills the television news and social media by  remembering the inspirational stories my father told me as a child.

His stories, words and lessons keep me centered and focused. 


Friday Night at Barnes & Noble Bookstore: A Discovery (April 2016)

Life is filled with serendipitous events. Several Fridays ago such an event occurred.

wild Friday night in Central Oregon involves hanging out at the local Barnes & Noble bookstore. I love browsing in bookstores. I love bookstores, period. They are nearly as magical as libraries (except the discoveries at bookstores are not free to take home!)

While browsing the magazine section of Barnes & Noble, I came across a magazine I had not seen before – American Craft Magazine (and I thought I knew all the magazines in the “crafting” magazine section). This magazine is published by the American Craft Council.

Flipping through this magazine I found an article on an exhibit by the WCQN (Women of Color Quilting Network). I did not know, as a woman of color, that there was a Women of Color Quilting Network! I made a mental note of the acronym and immediately upon returning home I googled the WCQN.

The WCQN , according to their website “is a non-profit organization founded in 1985 by Carolyn L. Mazloomi, a nationally-acclaimed quilt artist and lecturer, to foster and preserve the art of quilt making among women of color.”

Wow. What a discovery for me!

I contacted the Director of WCQN, Dr. Carolyn L. Mazloomi, to find out how I could join.


WCQN Inspiration

After several wonderful exchanges with Dr. Mazloomi, I am now a member of the WCQN. I had the opportunity to view her website, www.carolynlmazloomi.com and view her amazing art. I also spent a considerable amount of time looking at the the WCQN website, www.wcqn.org, and viewing their past exhibitions (www.wcqn.org/exhibit.html).

I was overwhelmed with inspiration to explore an additional direction in my art quilting – telling stories with my art quilt.

The WCQN art quilts poignantly share stories from a people of color’s perspective and shared experience.

Wanting to explore this theme in the future, I am inspired to create a future series of art quilts called Stories My Father Told Me.


Stories My Father Told Me

My father, Raoul A. Davis, Sr. was an amazing man. He passed in 2008, and left behind a legacy of stories and inspiration.

Born of the 4th of July, he was the son of two teachers and grew up the segregated South (Charleston, West Virginia) in the 1930s. He faced many hardships and challenges but always forged ahead to achieve his goals and dreams. He was the first black to attend Kiski School in Pennsylvania, received a bachelor’s degree from Central State University, and obtained his master’s degree from Columbia University. He also served his country in the US Army.

He served as a leader in the nonprofit sector for over 40 years. His service included working with gangs and underprivileged youth as a Social Worker in NYC; founding the Urban League of Long Island, NY; and creating the first Empire State Black Arts and Cultural Festival (today known as the African American Family Day Art Festival).

He retired as the Deputy Commissioner for the Office of General Services for the State of NY. In his retirement he volunteered and consulted for local nonprofits and community agencies.

His resume was impressive, but what I remember most about him is his stories.

Starting from my earliest memories as a child, I remember him telling me stories of his challenges growing up in the segregated South, stories of his athletic pursuits (he was an accomplished multi-sport athlete), stories about the intense hazing he received as the first black to attend Kiski Prep School, stories of overcoming shocking physical and psychological abuse in the US Army in the 1950 by his drill sergeant, and many other inspirational stories from his life.

IMG_3380IMG_3375IMG_3371IMG_3381

A couple of years before he passed he decided to write his autobiography and I offered to help him by transcribing his handwritten notes and pulling them into a rough draft. It was so wonderful to read the stories I knew well from hearing in my youth; and I was honored to help him with this project.

Unfortunately my father passed before finishing his autobiography. I did take what I had and make it into a book for my sister and brother (two incredible individuals who continue my father’s legacy and inspire me daily); and for his grandchildren (one of which he did not get to meet before he passed).

I am still left with all his stories in my head and in my heart, and I think I want to share them in another medium beyond the verbal and written word: in my art quilts.


His Stories into My Quilts

I am in the early stages of thinking of how I want to translate some of my favorite stories into a textile story – will I do something abstract, or will I do a pictorial quilt (time to brush up my appliqué skills!).

An ongoing theme in all his stories is: Here is a challenge, it may seem impossible, but you can overcome it!

One of my favorite stories that my father told me, is a story from his growing up in the segregated South and a bus ride experience that embodied his outlook on dealing with racial prejudices:

As a teenage in the 1940s, I was riding on the bus and a white guy was forced to sit next to me because no other seats were available. He turned to me and growled – “I hate you, you  #%%$%%!”  

I calmly replied to him “Well, you would like me if you got to know me”. 

We ended up having a great conversation and when we got to his bus stop, he exclaimed as he exited the bus: “Raoul, you are alright”.

My father likely did not change this man’s racist outlook on people of color, but he may have left an imprint in this man’s mind and heart to evaluate people based on their character not their color.

My father, who was also active in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s and fortunate to have met Martin Luther King, Jr., believed in focusing on getting to know each other as individuals and not judging an entire group or population.

He believed change came through dialogue not violence. He taught his three children to be brave, no matter what adversity life threw at them; and to as Mahatma Gandhi said “…be the change you wish to see in the world”.

He also taught us to be proud of who we are as individuals, as a people and of our heritage, and not to listen to those who tell you otherwise.

“I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.” – Gandhi

I would be honored to share his stories through my quilts.


Postscript (11/16/16)

In Spring 2016, I  begin the Stories My Father Told Me series with quilt #1 – The Lesson & The Equation, discussed in the post Stories My Father Told Me: Quilt #1 

IMG_2079
The Lesson & The Equation (2016) by Tierney Davis Hogan

This quilt is now with the curator for a future exhibit (not yet announced, so more later…and in the future I will include a photo of the entire quilt, this is a partial photo)

Right now I am sketching out the next quilt in the series.

Creative Inspiration, Stories My Father Told Me, Studio

Stories My Father Told Me: Quilt #1

 


Stories My Father Told Me: The First Quilt in the Series

In my 04/23/16 post Creative Inspiration: Stories My Father Told Me, I shared how I want to translate some of the inspirational stories my father, Raoul Davis, Sr. told me as a child, that inspire who I am as a person, into textile stories.

Two things happened since this post: 1) I was invited to participate in a special exhibit where I could draw from my the inspirational stories and words I listened to from my father as a child; and 2) I watched an excellent presentation on “Working in a Series” through the art quilting organization I belong – Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) that further inspired me to work on this series.

I created my first quilt in my Stories My Father Told Me Series, and it is titled “The Lesson & The Equation“. At this time I cannot share details on the show that it will be a part of as the exhibit has not been announced yet. However, I did receive permission from the show’s curator to share a photo of the quilt on my tierneycreates blog.

IMG_2079.jpg
The Lesson & The Equation (2016). Designed, pieced and quilted by Tierney Davis Hogan

Below are excerpts from my Artist Statement for this piece to provide some understanding of the inspiration for this piece:

My father grew up in the segregated South in the 1940s and embraced at an early age that change comes from respectful dialogue, not violence. He taught us that regardless of what adversity we faced in life, we must face it with grace; and treat others with respect, dignity, and brotherhood….  (THE LESSON).

In this quilt, a father (modeled after my own father in the 1970s) is teaching his children, on the main blackboard, THE EQUATION to achieving a world in which people are Free and Equal…I am from a family of educators, beginning with my great-grandfather. The blackboards in the quilt honor that legacy.


POSTSCRIPT: The Instagram Experiment

I have decided to experiment with the mysterious social networking app Instagram (yes, it is only mysterious to me). I mentioned in the “POSTSCRIPT” section of the post Back to the Butte how clueless I am about Instagram. Experimenting with it might be the only way to become less clueless!

I have added an Instagram “widget” to my blog page and now you will see my Instagram feed on my Home page. (Of course ow I need to add more than the 4 or so photos I had in Instagram when I first signed up a year or two ago,  got very confused and stopped using it).

We have magnetic erasable board on our refrigerator. I write menu plans and grocery shopping lists on this board. I have a habit of taking a photo of my grocery list on my smartphone to take shopping (I figure that is “greener” than using paper to write it down). I was laughing to myself: wouldn’t that make a terribly dull Instagram feed – just photos of my messily scrawled food shopping lists?!?!

I promise to try to keep the feed a wee bit more interesting than that!