Through Many Dangers -The Painting Synopsis

Through Many Dangers -The Painting Synopsis

by: Steve Skipper

When I think about the enormity of this project, I actually still shake at the thought. The magnitude of the meaning, message, purpose, and legacy is the very kind that draws you in and changes you forever. The stone on the 16th Street Baptist Church showing a strength to withstand the hell of dynamite yet enjoying the power of rebuilding and perseverance. After the Preliminary Drawing was finished and unveiled I knew I would have to enter into a world of color that carried its own high standard and quality. I knew it would demand a style that combined realism with figuration that had to have a perfect balance in order to maintain the message. I am use Jesus being in my Studio. Instructing to me and guiding my hands as I work. This time I could have sworn that my Studio was crowded with those from the Movement as they watched carefully making sure I showed and told it right. The Bible speaks of a great cloud of witnesses and I am sure many of them involved themselves in the witnessing process. The clouds were a challenge in fusing the images from the movement in a way that they could be recognized without overpowering the figures watching on the Church porch. The irony of the Statue of Liberty fused into the rebel flag, tied to the teaching of Bull Connor and the segregated stance of Governor Wallace. What an image for my people to face. The Statue which offered freedom to the worlds tired and poor would legally withhold it from a cherished few. A few who would dare to show an Agape kind of love to a country that would exclude the will to fight and die to maintain the freedom of the oppressors which was denied them at home. I wold then tie in the Alabama State flag which would carry little meaning to my people with the Governors allegiance to those who enforced the testimony of fools. The dogs, trained excellently to kill and break the will by the power of hells spirit of fear. Ferocious in nature and infused themselves with a racism to attack those who did them no one harm. I often wondered if the truly guilty criminals could have stole the City blind while the Police and all of its force was used to oppress the innocent. The non violent movement would demand the Black lady embracing her Bible and the White man who had chosen not only to risk his life but to withstand the heat of family in order to take a stand for what he knew was just plain old right. The unified and common peace on each of their faces, dedicated to non violence must have been a confusing sight to the dogs as well as those who held the leashes. Sort of like Daniel in the lions den. Animals trained to kill, but not able to get past the invisible God of protection. On the right side in the sky I had to include the Lincoln memorial evoking the dream of a President which would fuse itself with the dream of Dr. King and many others which would manifest itself in Civil Rights as well as the election of an African American President who would find himself heavily indebted to the dreamers and the God compelled by mercy, who made the dreams come true. A scene that would show an image to the left of a woman who represented those who as the bible said died in hope, never receiving the promise. Those who like Dr. King who would get there with us, but would know that we as a people would get to the promised land. With a tear gently falling from her eyes, the vision realized even from heaven had to be sweet. As God himself would wipe away even this from her eyes. The image of the President, humbled by the price paid for his position. His life changed forever from the inside out. Then a second image of the great Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth. The first on the left of him after supernaturally emerging from the bombing of his home. The second as he represents all of those who received the promise yet never thought they would live to see the day that an African American would be President and the most powerful man in the free world. He would tip his hat with the class of those who paid eight years of rent in advance for this man who would pioneer history. He would also remind this President and all who would benefit from the sacrifice of precious ancestors of the "Charge To Keep I Have" to God and those who came before. To carry ourselves with great dignity, honor and integrity fitting of the heirs of the great an awesome legacy that befalls us. I would then move to the People on the left and right side o the porch. An even greater level of realism in my Painting. Representing the countless millions who participated in the Movement insuring of its success. People of diverse races joining in with life on the line to force the racist hands and hearts of demented oppressors. Some of which were changed forever by the unrelenting Move of God that would break the backbone of segregation. I forgot to mention the Klansman in the left part of the sky imaging. It was extra hard to Paint him. I'm often placing myself deeply into every inch of my work and this one was something else. The robe was one thing but when I got to his eyes, I realized that this was a human being. Raised to hate my people or anyone unlike him. What if he once called my Daddy Nigger, what he was the racist Doctor whom my Mamma had told me allowed my Brother to die at birth. What if he was whatever or what if he had began this way but ended up changed by the power of God and died a great proponent of the Movement. Not knowing yet hoping for the latter. Needless to say this was a life changing and soul shaking experience for me. Kind of bitter sweet. I'm so proud of my Family who took part in the Movement, yet sad that most of them are not here to share this moment with me. I guess they are in the group who died in hope never receiving the promise. That group who crowded my Studio and watched as I Painted. I thank my God for moving to break the bonds of my people in America as he broke the bonds of the Jews in Egypt. I also thank all those of each race who dared to stand up for justice and grab hold to the horns of Gods alter until he allowed justice to truly roll down like a mighty stream. Never been more proud to be born in Birmingham, bussed to Edgewood Elementary, graduate from Homewood High, Saved by the grace of Almighty God, and commissioned to do this unforgettable work of Art by the great William A. Bell.

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