A labor of Love: Abner’s Tree process

This was a really challenging piece. It was a wrestle of self and soul, and of soul mates. Of ancestry and society. It was a necessary contribution to the dilemas that face us today.


 

We approached the work from a historical prospective looking for similarities and differences in past and present racial tension and injustices. All the while pondering the possibility of a unified future and asking ourselves what would liberty, unity, and justice for all look like in America.

For me this piece has grown me in many ways. I have wrestled like Jacob with God, seeking answers for past, present and promises for today and tomorrow. Despite the struggle, pain, and the ambiguous future.

In summing up my conclusions from this Art and Dialogue: Racial Tensions in America experience I believe that it does and will take all kinds of people to make the world a better place. Talking to my eye doctor yesterday, and African American man, we spoke of the bullet holes in the walls of A&T state university’s campus of Scott Hall dormitories. I told him my father was on campus at the time when shots rang out from National Guard weapons. Killing one student and wounding others. Now passed away, I wondered if my father would be proud of me and my work. My doc said “you know, you did something.” Which settled it for me.

My sister attended the Million Man March this past weekend. I love her strong, resilient and BOLD spirit. I told a friend if it was back in the day I would be Martin Luther King Jr. and she would Malcolm X. Our personalities are a bit different. 😉 But both men had their methods and they both contributed to society.

I encourage you, DO NOT DISCOUNT YOUR VOICE! You were created for HIS GREAT Purpose! We will not agree on every thing, however, allow God and His word to be your plumb line. If you build on His Word, no matter the quakes YOU will never be shaken.


 

Artist Statement and Process images

ABNER’S TREE is rooted in the words of 2 Samuel 2:26, “Then Abner called to Joab, “Shall the sword devour forever? Do you not know that the end will be bitter? How long will it be before you tell your people to turn from the pursuit of their brothers?”  And we ask you America, how long will it be?

This art birthed out of our response to our own history as people of the south with two opposing bloodlines and our present day events. We thought it only fitting to create this work together, black and white, husband and wife. We wanted to take an honest look at our history. Ask the hard questions. And open the door for truth, healing, and reconciliation.

We use a tree as the base because throughout many generations the tree has been a symbol of life and of death. It is a meeting place, an image of family, but it was also used to kill many through lynching. The tree itself is an image of tension. The glass surface is pivotal for this work. The work symbolizes a meeting place, and intersection of all colors, tribes, and creeds. No matter, age, gender, or race, as one engages with the piece, the audience will be forced to see through it and engage with those around them. Ultimately, we cannot escape each other. But through humility, an honest look,  love, and forgiveness there is hope of unity.

The painted tree is formed from our profiles. The flag is slumped half mass over the black female side of the tree. Her leg bears its weight in tribute to ancestry bloodshed and how much of America has been build and funded by oppressed peoples. The red from the flag morphs onto the blood from lives lost and riots that fill the streets.

We want viewers to write to us injustices that have been done against them or someone they know. No matter their background or incident. This is to promote honesty, healing and reconciliation. We will take all writings  and adhere them to the pedestal to create a memorial. Respond here or on FB

May Abner’s Tree offer an avenue  through which to grieve, heal, and reconcile. May it promote justice and unity while facing past and present conditions. May it lift heads to hope and provoke some to forgive and other to receive forgiveness as we move towards  a brighter tomorrow.

 

 

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The Final Concept
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Structural Logistics
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At the Saw Mill
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Milling the Base

 

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Prep the Base
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Build the Pedestal
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Add Casters
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The Final Glass Image
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Frost the Glass
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Create Image on Glass
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In front of the Crown Humanities Building

 

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Final On Display

 In Honor of those who have gone before us and a HUGE thank you who all contributed to the process and the dialogue.

 

“Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies – or else? The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.” – Dr. ML King Jr

 

Yours,

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Krystal J F Hart

 

The world’s way of change or the Gospels way


With all the recent conversation on injustice one’s humanity cries out for answers, solutions, an anchor. Being a female who’s ancestry is part product of the slave trade one grapples with idenity, purpose, healing and place in society.

I often think of my sweet grandmother and our conversations about such matters. Passing at 100 years old she had seen her share of harships. But you know, she never focused on the shadows of the past. Sure she acknowledged them. But they didn’t define her. As much as I can gather, for as long as I can remember her identity was in Christ. She would put Him and mention Him first and last above all things.

If Christ is your Lord His standards must become ours also.

There are so many opinions, hurts, pains, and wounds in this life and in our history. Who can count every injustice but the one with the eternal book? He has recorded every deed down and all will be displayed at the judgement seat. 2 Corith 5:10 The thought of it makes me want to check my life inventory!

I’ve spoken to various people about the recent racial tensions in our nation. I love to hear views, young and old, black, white, red, yellow. Some people are heated just mentioning the subject. And rightly so. Others, more particularly olders generations hold a wider scope.

Could it be that Gospel principles don’t hold up today as a standard for living and soulutions for social delimas because much of our culture is void of the Word of God?

What defines you and me as people? Is it our race, gender, financial status, or where we were born? What makes you who you are? We must not forget where we come from. To do that is to loose part of our identity. But we must move forward in becoming who He has destined us to be. Know that the testimony is not in the trial but in the overcoming.

I believe that part of that overcoming includes forgiveness of self and others. For there is much blood on our hands as a nation.

Will God forgive my sin if I do not forgive my brother’s?

Can we all take an honest look at the injustices done as a nation to its own people, and to other nations? Can we allow all the greed, deceit, humiliation, oppression, and blood spilt come to the surface. To gaze upon it acknowledge the sin and forgive it?

Many argue that forgiveness does nothing. That it’s weak. That we must fight and fight and fight. I recently heard a quote by Grace Lee Boggs We put so much emphasis on taking over the power structure, and we became prisoners of it.

I’m not here to tell you where to stand. We must all find our plumb line. But I do beg the question, in the face of faith, past, present and future, Krystal, where do you stand?

Where does your allegiance lie? This is the hour of decision.

Scriptures that I have been chewing over as I walk this out.

Matthew 6:15
Genesis 50:17

Practically all of 1 Peter. Just read the whole thing. But specifically 1 Peter 4:7-8

There are many others that I will add as I find their text location.

Yours in His great love,

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Krystal J F Hart

Taking the boys to Art and Dialogue

 

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After the Art and Dialogue opening October 24th I really wanted to take my nine and ten year old nephews to see the artwork, hear their response to the works and their perspective of race today.

They jump and slide through the exhibition doorway. Once in we begin our gaze at the work along the wall. I read portions of artist statements to them. One would ask questions and the other would loose attention and bop to another piece.

As we approached Tasnif’s work of the Drinking Fountain sign titled New Paint, Old Scars I ask my nephews if in their perspective, was the today’s Muslim struggle comparable to their knowledge of the Jim Crow laws in Black American history.  After giving my comment a few seconds of though they said “No”.

As we move through the exhibition space the tone is light and playful. They would stop every now and then to read, ask questions, or comment. One would frequently complain ” Is this all there is? I thought there would be more…” Quickly the light moment changed as they danced past Titus Brooks Heagin’s hoodie or hooded photography seen here.

 

imageThe younger one points to the black female in the brown hoodie with pink hearts “She from the hood” he says. I ask him “Why, how do you know?” “I can tell” he says. I say, “She could be in high society and just coming from the gym.” I point at the older White female in a pink hoodie, “What about her,” I ask? “No she’s not from the hood, but she is.” Referring to the initial image.

I honestly had not taken the time to contemplate my own initial perceptions or reactions to the imagery. What would I have said as a nine year old? One thing that I love about children is that they say what the adult world maybe or may not be thinking. As we grow up we often filter what really springs forth from our hearts, or minds.

To some degree to look at a person we judge a person. Like an impulse, our consciousness begins to evaluate before we are aware of the depths of our conclusions. Friend or foe, rich or poor, beautiful or unattractive.

So I pointed to the third photo a Black male with dreads, also in a hoodie. “What about him?” “Oh yes he is,” he says without hesitating. “How do you know.” “He looks like it. And he has dreads. Most people with dreads are bad people.” Stunned I said “Your brother has dreads! Is he a bad person!” “Noooo!” He replied and attempted to build a case for his comments. I turn to his brother, who has now made himself at home in the exhibition space and is rolling around part on a long cushioned bench and partly on the floor.
“Are you a bad person?” He pops his head up. “No!” “Are you from the hood?” He straightens up “NO!” “You sure you not from the hood?” I say teasing him. His answer was definitive “NO!”

I then begin to speak to them about perceptions, appearance, and even learning  to listen to the voice of God. I tell them a recent story about how God directed our appearance that saved us from unneeded trouble overseas.

As we left the building, I walked away contemplative. Its one thing to talk about the social biases, skewed perceptions in colorism and it’s another thing to see it play out in people you know and love. The reality is that we all bear a personal social reality. Often which, parts are shaped by media, home life, and our culture at large. Is there a way to reprogram or heal our images of races, ethnicities, goods, and evils without an overhaul of our American culture and it’s systems?

We must be aware of how deep the scars go.

Because of the vast complexities in our world, in the choice to love or hate, one must determine within themselves how they will respond and respect others before tension arise. We cannot control a persons perceptions. But we can cultivate a culture of unity and love. Even in the face of adversity unto death, Christ chose to love and to pray for His persecutors. May we have the grace to do the same.

Stay tuned, for our next creative adventure. Join us on FB

Catch all information on the exhibition that will be open until October 11th HERE

Yours,

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Krystal J F Hart

The Power of His Presence in the midst of suffering

Yesterday, a man approached me in a High Point University t- shirt. In the brief of our conversation he asks me about my salvation in Christ and tells me he gave His life to Christ four years ago. He tells me about his sick wife and how when he gets odd jobs he has enough money to get them a room for a few nights. Then its back on the streets.  At one point in the conversation he says “but instead of speaking what I don’t have I thank God for what I do have. It’s hard to believe but there are some way worst off that me.”

This conversation made me think about the book, Why Suffering by Raavi Zacharias and Vince Vitale that I started reading last weekend as we headed to a family reunion. Our family reunion was at an all American icon here in North Carolina, Bills Barbecue! A southern foodie must try if you are in the area!

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The events of the reunion were similar  to ones in the past. We arrive, check in, say hellos, and give thanks for the food. Then most people gorge on foods that are rarely eaten everyday at home. As my 9 year old nephew put it “Its a family reunion, its all you can eat.” This is the same one who put down at least two plates of food several drinks and visited the dessert table at least 3 or 4 times!

What made this reunion different? I had the honor of sitting beside my aunt who is wheelchair bound due to multiple strokes. She wears a one false leg. Her arms and fingers are curled up permanently to her chest. There is a balled up bath cloth in each hand. She needs help doing mostly everything. Although her skin still looks smooth as of her youth, her face is gaunt and restricted in some places due to the losses from the stroke. Her speech is also garbled and at times completely unclear. My other nephew would look, stair, and at one time pointed. I believe he wanted  to know the story behind the image. And like always, we polite southern people are taught to smile and nod like all is well. But I thought No! If he wants to know her story he should.

I feel like culturally we to often pretend that there is not a big butt in the room. More times if we are real it may take the weird or uncomfortable out of it. I do understand that most times one doesn’t want to offend or hurt feelings and so we stay on the surface. I wonder if by going deeper, or just childlike honesty would people treat persons like my aunt with more humanity.

How often or eager are we to be around unusual or even down right ugly things? Things that do not fit into our image of normal? Its easier to pretend the ugly, suffering, sorrow doesn’t exist. From my own sufferings, though nothing compared to what I just mentioned, I understand the distance. The miss understandings. The rejection. The loneliness. Many do not want to be around ugly things. Its inconvenient, we are self preserving people. Others want to help, but often try to solve problems for you that you didn’t ask to be solved. Many people suffering just like to know you are with them. There is great power in presence!

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As I sat beside my aunt I wanted to do something to bless her. To stand with her in love. People would come by, hug her, kiss her face, hand her money. These were the hands and feet of Jesus. I love how generous and humble our family is! They are the power of His presence in the midst of suffering.

The Power of Presence!

Many have stood with me and loved me when I thought I was broken and useless. In the first chapter of  Why Suffering  Zacharias says ” Ideas cannot bring lasting meaning, comfort, or hope. Only a person can.” Jesus and the relationship with Him is that.wpid-0704151659a.jpg

This could not have been expressed any better than during the entertainment hour. Hip hop was played. Dancers danced. My aunt sat quietly recovering from her big meal. It was only when one woman started singing old gospel song about God’s goodness and going home that the tears started to flow from my aunts eyes. Her husband wiped one side. I wiped the other. The songs continue. The tears continued. I, knowing the comfort of Jesus in the midst of complete darkness fought back my own tears as I thought of her everyday condition. Where these tears of joy that she is alive? I wondered if she still thinks about who she use to be. I wonder if she feels trapped in this injured body. Or she could have been crying for some other reason! But I do know that  only Christ truly knows her and her husband’s suffering, the loss, the mourning over her losses. No one else can get that deep with you and yours but Him!

He is the all comfort. All Peace, All Joy. Only trusting in Him can allow you to worship when there seems to be no hope at all. I must say some of my sweetest nearest times with Jesus have been when all was lost and He was the only thing I had to cling to.

And this is why we need creatives, to sing of His goodness, to paint of it, to write of it, to record it in every season of our lives. So that they may know of a hope and anchor beyond these shores. Join Me on this journey.

Yours with LOVE,

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Krystal J. F. Hart

 

 

That girl in the Vietnam War Photo

 

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This March I got the pleasure of meeting an international icon. She is not your well known music or film celebrity. Most  pop culture will not recognize her name or her image.  But the world knows and loves her by a single photo taken in 1972 during the Vietnam War.

Not only did I get to sit under her words of wisdom during the March 2015 Women’s Initiative ICM conference. We also had the honor of taking her out to dinner.  The best part of the weekend was the after dinner conversation with Kim Phuc back in her room. We both laughed and at some point we both cried. She poured out her wisdom for a Christian life. As we shared our pains and sufferings and encouraged one another our hearts were knitted together that night. I know for God’s great purpose.

Still traveling and speaking, Kim uses her experiences to spread a message of faith in Jesus, forgiveness, and empowering others. Especially the children of war. For more info visit Kim Foundation.

CNN recently did a special on her Kim Phuc Where is she now? Because of her travels I may not always know where she is. But we do keep in touch by email or the surprise phone call. Prayer and encouragements are the center.

Other than to brag about my friendship with Kim Phuc why am I telling you this story? As an artist my job is to create and recreate. I have the identity of my heavenly Father, and so do you! He created all the wondrous beauties of the world out nothingness, out of a formless void. Now today, your life may be beautiful as morning dew resting on fresh spring flowers or it may look like an atomic bomb when off and has scatter everything to pieces.

The Bible speaks vividly of the sufferings of man. But it also promises that peace is available in all circumstances.

I think of all that Kim as walked through and I see where she is. Despite terrible pain even today the evidence of God’s goodness and faithfulness in her life is so real and so pure. And in His goodness He saw it fit to knit two very different lives together for His purpose. Know that He has made you an overcomer! He has equipped you to bear the storm and thrive! Allow Chirst to work his miraculous beauty in your life. Let Him speak into those areas that are formless, that are reckless. You do not have to be an artist to create and recreate. God can meet you where you are. Allow His word to create new life within you and around you every part of your day. You are not alone in your journey. We are knited together. I encourage you to keep walking with Him, or to start walking with Him and trust Him. You will live utterly amazed.

Remember: The Lord is my light and my salvation whom/ what shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid? Ps 27:1

Yours with LOVE,

 

 

 

 

 

Krystal J.F. Hart

Facing the ugly with the beautiful

I’ve been exploring clouds for a little while now. I love them. I want Father to show  me His creative secrets!

Still using more of an abstract idea of the clouds and their meanings to me I decided to paint about my accident. (more of which you will hear about another time.)

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Its very hard for me to show these. Im very insecure about it. It not placid and beautiful. But its the first of more.

At some point I must face the ugly with the beautiful for the piece to be Truth.

And this is why He is Lord. He is all consumingly beautiful but He is likewise all Truth. His love is raw and real. And so was His death, and resurrection. There is no other on either side of heaven or hell that will love, fight for, live or die so deeply. So honest. So true. So Christ!

Join me!

-Krystal J F Hart

Where Do We Go From Here?

I seek the divine in such darkness.
Where is the fair fight when the lights go out?
I scream and shout. I scream and shout. Much to no avail.
It seems that hell has seized that land, and no one understands me anymore.
Who has turned out the lights?!
I fight and fight to regain normalcy.
Embodied in the present past of traumatic events.
Will I move forward, or linger in the ashes of that which has been lost forever?
-Krystal J. F. Hart

Where Do We Go From Here was created with acrylics, inks, and an image transfer technique. I think of all that has been lost and ravaged by war and violence. I think of my own suffering and lost through my own traumatic experience. We are all but children aren’t we? I think of  “the children of Cain. Child leftovers from the fratricidal violence he symbolized.” -excerpt from Dr. Frank Wood.  The poem above can be seen interlaced through out the sky in the painting. When your storm is raging always remember, but there is still hope in utter darkness!

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Painting : mixed media on stretched canvas.

Krystal J. F. Hart