September 29, 2021

11:30 am - 11:40 am

Artist Showcase: Harriett’s Strength

Diana Elizabeth Jordan, MFA

Description

Diana Elizabeth Jordan dramatizes the incomparable pain and immeasurable strength of a mother who desperately looks for her children, kidnapped and exploited by the circus.

Diana’s source material:

In the Early 1900s, Albino African-American Brothers Were Stolen From Their Virginia Home to Be Circus Performers. This is Their Story.

Excerpt from article above: Talk to any person of color over age 60 in my part of Virginia and they know the story by heart: Black children reared during the postwar baby boom rarely left home without being admonished by their mothers, “Y’all stay together now or you might be kidnapped, just like Eko and Iko.”

Eko and Iko were the sideshow stage names of George and Willie Muse, the grandsons of former slaves. They were born at the turn of the century to parents who sharecropped tobacco, like everyone else in the rural enclave of Truevine, Virginia.

George and Willie were just six and nine, as the elders tell the story, when a circus promoter crept onto the tobacco field where they were working and enticed them with a rare piece of candy. In the time it took to fetch a hoe from the shed, the boys vanished.

They were kidnapped in a dusty corner of southern Virginia named for the only thing that gave these Reconstruction-era blacks any semblance of hope—the biblical promise of a better life in the hereafter. “I am the true vine, and My father is the vinedresser,” Jesus said in the Gospel of John. “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”

For the next 13 years, their mother, Harriett, watched and worried. And she waited for signs of fruit.”

 

Tags: Artist Showcase