Les Amis de Beauford Delaney is partnering with the Wells International Foundation (WIF) to take the Beauford Delaney: Resonance of Form and Vibration of Color exhibition to the U.S.!

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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Conversations with Beauford - Part 2


Paul Sinclair is the agent for the African-American expatriate artist Ealy Mays. He and Mays are admirers of Beauford's work and students of his life story and Sinclair's profound respect and empathy for Beauford inspired him to represent Mays. The following is a second excerpt from an article that Sinclair wrote after visiting Beauford's solo exposition Beauford Delaney: Internal Light, which was recently held at Levis Fine Art in Manhattan. I have published it here with his permission.

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... So as I stood at Levis Fine Arts and solemnly reached into his eyes, I found the man as complex, as soft, as tender, and as serene as the multitude of other witnesses to his existence. He refused my probes for direct answers and where he responded, it was in terms still comprehensible only by geniuses or madmen. His genteel and almost princely Portrait of a Man on White is juxtaposed to the effeminate yet rough portrayal of Howard Swanson, wherein Beauford obviously channeled much of his own inner turmoil into the almost “piggish” face with which he obscured Swanson’s neck. It was the eyes of Portrait of Man in Red that captivated me, and again I wondered while stepping back, “How did Beauford manage to fuse his own persona into this face of a white man?” In studying the portrait, an image of Beauford instantly came alive.

Portrait of a man in red / Michael Frelich, 1965
Oil on canvas
18.0 x 15.0 inches (48.7 x 38.1 cm)
Signed on reverse
© Estate of Beauford Delaney, by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire, Court Appointed Administrator

His Portrait of Ahmed Bioud went straight to the core of Bioud’s soul. One is captivated by his eyes and thereafter, seeing the rest of the portrait becomes a blur. Portrait of a Seated Man was again the Beauford with something to hide, yet dignified and meticulous in all that he did. An untitled piece described as Seated Figure in a Café simultaneously places the individual in a forest or jungle, which forced the question of whether an artist can ever truly be anything but himself or herself. The tumult and confusion of Beauford’s mind was such that even moments seated in a city café might unleash attacking lions and tigers, monkeys swinging wildly, and birds singing his favorite tones, all from deep within rain-forest vegetation through which rays of yellow sunlight would extend to yank at his consciousness and return him to the drink in his glass or the food on his plate.

Whatever darkness he felt inside would often give way to a constant light. Where the focus was not on a realist image, Beauford would go dancing in a magical world of light-infused abstracts. Without saying so, it was clear that this was where he found the most solace. He was an abstract painter before the movement and standing there in the gallery, it became clear to me that his strokes into abstraction were the unleashing of impulses formed from deep within. You got the sense that they were not visual formations, but instead the guided manifestation of hands driven by forces from within as Beauford pranced away in some foreign universe. And then he showed me an even more surprising beauty in Abstract in Turquoise, another piece of abstract work but this time a dalliance with a light-infused shade of blue.

Abstract in Turquoise
Gouache on wove paper, 1961
25.75 x 19.75 inches (65.4 x 50.2 cm)
Signed and dated lower left
© Estate of Beauford Delaney, by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire, Court Appointed Administrator

The man I spoke to was not necessarily insane. He was instead different, and like other geniuses, possibly quite misunderstood. In her biopic definition of the man and his work, Gertrude Stein lauded , as being at the essence of his greatness.the genius of Picasso’s ability to see things differently than the rest of us, as being at the essence of his greatness. According to Stein, “... Picasso was not like that, when he ate a tomato, the tomato was not everybody’s tomato, not at all and his effort was not to express in his way the things seen as everyone sees them, but to express the thing as he was seeing it.” In a different way, Beauford showed me that he too saw things differently from the rest of us.

James Baldwin might have been correct in the following attribution to Beauford Delaney, with the exception of the last portion:
He has been starving and working all of his life – in Tennessee, in Boston, in New York, and now in Paris. He has been menaced more than any other man I know by his social circumstances and also by all the emotional and psychological stratagems he has been forced to use to survive; and, more than any other man I know, he has transcended both the inner and outer darkness.
But what I saw and heard from Beauford was a little different. His inner darkness gave way to the outer light and there might not have been a need to transcend any of that. Should there always be an expectation of genius’ coexistence with rationality, or of light in constant opposition to darkness in regards to those who create? Can logical minds or trouble-free souls be reasonable expectations in the creation of art? Those who knew Beauford, those who loved him, and those who were uplifted by his art, were all saddened that the “companions” that drove the genius had in time also devoured the man. But the man was here, and his art now transcends both time and space, and this should be a source of happiness and inspiration for all.

As Homer once said, there can be no pledging of faith between men and lions. It is to be expected that lion will devour man. Beauford would have known that all along and from behind the caged walls of l’hôpital St. Anne in Paris, he yielded to his inner lions on the 26th day March 1979.


Read the first excerpt from Paul Sinclair's article here.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Conversations with Beauford - Part 1

Paul Sinclair is the agent for the African-American expatriate artist Ealy Mays. He and Mays are admirers of Beauford's work and students of his life story and Sinclair's profound respect and empathy for Beauford inspired him to represent Mays. The following is an excerpt from an article that Sinclair wrote after visiting Beauford's solo exposition Beauford Delaney: Internal Light, which was recently held at Levis Fine Art in Manhattan. I have published it here with his permission.

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On entering the Levis Fine Art gallery on West 24th Street in Manhattan last week, I felt a selfish sense of ideal timing in that I was visiting Beauford to say hello at about 4pm on a Thursday evening, and I was very happy at the absence of a bustling 6pm crowd that might have interrupted the conversation between Beauford and me. Many Manhattan galleries will inundate you with invitations only to grace your presence with that sense of “trespassing-snobbery.” But at Levis Fine Art, it was different.

Beauford Delaney: Internal Light
Levis Fine Art
© Estate of Beauford Delaney, by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire, Court Appointed Administrator

Jim Levis came out and welcomed me. I told him of my connections to Beauford Delaney and of my absolute pleasure in seeing the exhibit, and I also mentioned that I that I knew a Monique Wells in Paris. He in turn extended a warm welcome and shared a few thoughts on what inspired him to recognize our friend with this wonderful exhibition, entitled Beauford Delaney: Internal Light. It was my second visit to see a Beauford exhibition in as many months. He had featured prominently in the Whitney Museum’s Blues for Smoke exhibition earlier this year, though as part of a group collection by great black artists. At Levis, this was a solo Beauford exhibit, and I had much to discuss with the man.

While standing there, I thought of the many question for Beauford that I had in my head for so many years. I am a “Beauford Delaney kid,” loosely self-described as spending a period of my life in the shadows of Beauford wherein on any given day Beauford might have occupied about hundred out of the average forty thousand thoughts that crossed my mind. His was the other side of Paris; Not exactly Van Gogh’s trail of madness and brilliance through the South of France, but neither was it Henry O. Tanner’s genteel existence of solace found in painting deeply religious images such as Daniel in the Lion’s Den, Return of the Holy Women, or The Resurrection of Lazarus. Tanner, like Beauford, was another kind and gentle soul. Both were sensitive men who had fled the harsh Anglo-Saxon culture of the United States for the soft artistic shores of France, with Tanner leading the way a generation before Beauford.

During my years in Paris, I had met and known so many deeply talented artists who too were tortured souls. So standing there in that gallery, I needed some answers – in particular, to the question of the seemingly perfectly inversed relationship of the genius to the demented, and its reconciliation sooner or later with the bottle or some other form of drug intended to numb the pain. I was not going to wait to read the opinions of some disconnected art writer or of others with varying titles who are paid handsomely to vomit illustrious words per minute, without ever having a single intimate moment with the man or any knowledge of who he was. This was not like a Rembrandt or a Gauguin who lived a thousand years ago and whose works are only to be found in major museums. This was a painter whose roommate had been a father figure for some of us in Paris for years. I was not there to examine brush strokes or contours. Instead, I was there to look Beauford in the eye and ask of him the questions that have been on my mind for these many years.

“Was it true that he had attempted to throw himself into the Seine a few times before being committed?” “Was the use of “yellow” and its many variants done in search of discovering a 4th primary color or was this his media, through which he could abstractly express himself and resonate color and light, his way of shining from within?” “How did he feel to see friends and fellow artists Harold Cousins, Ed Clark, Herbert Gentry, Romare Bearden, and others receive such widespread recognition and fame, while he languished unrecognized for many years?” “What was his reaction to his friend James Baldwin’s meteoric take off after returning to the America in 1957 to participate in the civil rights struggle?” “Did he consider Baldwin’s friendship an important a factor in his life as history had recorded it, and did he feel that Baldwin had done enough for him in his darkest hours of need, as would have been expected of such a ‘dear’ friend and mentee?”

I also wanted to ask Beauford if he was finally at peace and if he was happy with the new found recognition, and dedication of recent years by scholars and writers such as Paris-based freelance writer Monique Wells, who single-handedly prevented the destruction and possible desecration of his “about-to-be abandoned” burial spot and created the Les Amis de Beauford foundation in Paris, solely dedicated to the preservation of the legacy and dignity of Beauford Delaney.

I did not need to ask him how he felt about the exhibition underway at Levis Fine Art Gallery, as I could feel his spirit and I knew he was happy. So I took the time to look Beauford in the eyes and posed my questions. His answers were as varied as could be imagined, and where they were not too clear, I had to infer my own interpretations of the man in yellow. He was no less complex than history had suggested, yet his genteel nature was felt throughout the exhibition halls.

Abstract in Orange and Red, 1963
Gouache on wove paper
25.75 x 19.625 inches
© Estate of Beauford Delaney, by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire, Court Appointed Administrator

Beauford's life was lived with kindness, care, pity, neglect, confusion, paranoia, a little schizophrenia, and a lot of pure genius. Depression, isolation, exploitation, and religious-induced self-hatred for being born gay drove the engine of torture that powered both dimensions of his extremes. His work reflected bright colors and lights, which shone through, while his mood often reflected absolute darkness. The artist manifested one wavelength while his art was of an entirely different genre. In physics we learn that with massive temperature increases past a few hundred degrees Celsius, black bodies start to emit visible wavelengths, appearing red, orange, yellow, blue and white. In seeing Beauford’s work, one can imagine a similar internal increase in neurons, increase in electrons, heightened molecular stimulations to the brain, and near atomic spinning of particles, to produce incredibly serene light and often yellow textures, with delicacies of time, place, moods and circumstances. Internal turmoil enveloped the man while tranquility eased itself into every inch of his work and into much of his external interactions with others. He painted many faces but it was through forceful and poignant construction of the eyes by which he often showed us the souls of his subjects. At times, it was clear that he channeled some of the inner Beauford into his subjects as well. All who knew Beauford described him as a kind, sweet, and loving soul, albeit always in regretfully poignant tones.


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Ba'lls to the Wa'll, Y'all - Part 2

This article is contributed by Maureen Kelleher, who is an avid admirer of James Baldwin and who came to know about Beauford because of his friendship with Baldwin. "Ba'lls to the Wa'll, Y'all" expresses Maureen's thoughts about a painting that she viewed at the ongoing exposition Beauford Delaney: Internal Light.This is the second excerpt from her article.

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Untitled: Yellow, Red and Black Circles
1966 Gouache on wove paper
25.25 x 19.25 inches (64.1 x 48.9 cm)
Signed and inscribed lower right to James Baldwin
© Estate of Beauford Delaney, by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire, Court Appointed Administrator

Delaney’s work resulted from his trip to Istanbul and meeting up with Baldwin. Untitled: Yellow, Red and Black Circles is a pronouncement.

“I’m here and I’m queer” -- proud, loud, no shame. And “I got balls.”

He hooked up with his buddy, Baldwin. I can easily imagine each man feeling relief – “The cavalry has arrived! I have back–up! I’m saved! I’m normal! All is good with my world, now!” Validation. Affirmation. Hugs. Love. Kindness all around.

The glorious glow that takes one over when we see a person we love, walking toward us, after a long time apart, getting closer, closer, their face, we smile, we start laughing!, we get giddy, and then so thrilled to hug him/ her and have them in our arms! Glory be! I am loved! It’s all okay! You’re here!” “I am so happy you are here!” And that’s just the part that can be expressed in thoughts and words.

And for these two odd [American] balls, who so clearly rejected so much of what was “normal” back “home” in the old streets of the USA: to be within reach of each other was an affirmation of how they chose to live. Pure joy.

Each saw himself in the other, and enjoyed the validation from the other man when in his company, when he watched the other one move, be, talk, relate, eat, joke, drink, smoke, etc.

I can only guess there was an extraordinary vibe and understanding between them, shared: ‘you are me and I am you. Period. Thank god for you.’

I can imagine Baldwin gabbed on and on -- seriously, goofy, humorously, sardonically, subtlely, deeply -- about his love for Delaney (and everything else). He was a talker, sometimes a bullshitter, a sharp-as-shit eye on everything, the voice of what was going on all around him and inside his head, heart, and probably in his loins, too. He talked, he wrote. He wrote more. And more. He got so much up and out. I doubt he would have held back in his verbiage when he met, head on, someone he loved. No lack of expressing the love.

Beauford’s self-expression? I imagine a lot of bear hugs! And jovial physical back and forth with all he came within arm’s length of. And, of course, he expressed through painting.

“Untitled: Yellow, Red and Black Circles,” aka:

"Balls, and I’m proud of 'em."

Or

“Life, and I’m alive!”

Or

“I’m here, I’m queer, and I’m so happy to be.”

Or

“And this is where it all comes from!”

Or

“Life. Let’s get it on.”

Or

“I’m with Jimmy again! Wahoo! I’m so happy!”

Or

“I have no idea what this freaking life is really all about,
but here I am. And here’s where it all started.”

Or

“I know what life is all about, and I’m living it. And here is where I got my start.
Thank you very much!”

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Delaney’s epitaph reads: “I am home.” Clearly he thought about what he wanted to say to the world, when given the last shot.

“I am home.”

My life, his life, our being born: is the leaving of home and trekking out -- being pushed out -- into the world? Out into human existence we go! – to live outside of the home, and death is our happy return ?
Death: the successful coming “full circle” – in which we get back to where it all started? i.e., I made it! I found it! I got back! I’m back!! He believed life was one huge, decades- long search? An effort, the striving, working, to getting back to a special place?

The trail, the damn long road, we each take, once we make that first fluidy wriggle, from that first cell, that meeting of egg and sperm, that will become me? Fall out of the womb, get pushed out, and the trek begins? Striving, from that moment on, to get back in?

To my mind, home is where I feel safe.

While living, Delaney felt at “home” when in the presence of Baldwin. Of that, I feel certain. Baldwin validated so many aspects of Delaney’s being and his essence, too. And vice versa for Baldwin.

For Delaney, he envisioned death was home, and it feels like he looked forward to the relief dying and being back at “home” would bring.

Perhaps he looked forward to the place, the time, where / when he didn’t have to be afraid of and wrestle with and negotiate pain, poverty, demons in his crazy ass head, bills, hunger, the voices, and (I imagine) a monstrously long list of painful crap (that we’ll never know) that his life was chock full of.

Will we ever know the inspiration, Delaney’s real, deep down, inspiration, for this painting? One thing is certain. He dedicated it to Baldwin because he felt love for Jimmy. It is a love letter. It screams love on many levels. It was created while he was in a self-imposed exile, a self-made uprooting, and re-planting in Europe. And within that exile, an even more special trip, days long, to an even more strange (unfamiliar) country, to visit Baldwin.

I’m guessing it was relief, calm, tranquility, love, adoration and all-things- wonderful when one is in the company of a soul mate – in Istanbul in 1966.

And from this came Untitled: Yellow, Red and Black Circles.


For the full article, visit Maureen's Web site at www.beanartbean.com

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Ba'lls to the Wa'll, Y'all - Part 1

This article is contributed by Maureen Kelleher, who is an avid admirer of James Baldwin and who came to know about Beauford because of his friendship with Baldwin. "Ba'lls to the Wa'll, Y'all" expresses Maureen's thoughts about a painting that she viewed at the ongoing exposition Beauford Delaney: Internal Light. I've printed a couple of excerpts here and will publish another one next week..

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I’m a lover of all things about James Baldwin, and, in particular, his biography by David Leeming. It’s Baldwin’s life force that keeps me going back for more, more, more. I’d guess I’ve read some parts of Leeming’s book five times, times two. I’ve used the photos in the book in my art (and so much more), I sometimes call up a story from his life to emphasize a point in mine. The man had balls. Big ones.

And his best buddy, friend, confidant, father figure, pal, great source of mutual [as in reciprocated] love, adoration, and respect: the painter, Beauford Delaney.

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Untitled: Yellow, Red and Black Circles
1966 Gouache on wove paper
25.25 x 19.25 inches (64.1 x 48.9 cm)
Signed and inscribed lower right to James Baldwin
© Estate of Beauford Delaney, by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire, Court Appointed Administrator

At Levis Fine Art, W. 24th Street, NYC, Beauford Delaney: Internal Light hangs, shines, glows. Yellow, Lilly Wei points out, was important to Delaney. A lot of these paintings are from Delaney’s years in Paris.

I saw the works the day before the official reception. I had a great sneak peek preview as I waited for Jim Levis to deal with NYC traffic and get to our meeting at the gallery.

I looked at the show, then sat in his office and started a letter. I had about thirty minutes. Of course, I looked up, down, and all around as I thought about what next to write to my pen pal.

I couldn’t miss the additional Delaney paintings that were in Jim’s private space.

On the office walls: art. I was surrounded by it. More compact, tighter, more dense than out in the gallery. Squashed up right against it. The best way to see it. Sitting in a comfy leather chair. Write another sentence, look at the paintings again. Think about the painter.

There was Beauford Delaney, looking at me. His big old head, a piece of sculpture by the door. Delaney was checking me out, too.

“Get up! Pay attention to these paintings!” I said to myself. “He actually touched these!” “These are from across the ocean! From a long time ago!”

Over Jim’s desk I leaned, and then my face was up close and personal with Untitled: Yellow, Red and Black Circles. I kept thinking, over and over, just like when I’m in a museum: “He made this stuff!” “He touched it!” “This painting was in Paris!” and I blurred back into mental fantasy of where / how / when this painting had moved in its ‘life.’ And now, it’s here, right over Jim’s desk, and I could touch it, if I wanted!

This was Delaney’s art. I had only read about him, and then only tangentially (to Baldwin), but here is the stuff he created, right here! I missed it the first time around – lost in my thoughts that I was “actually” in front of work that came from Delaney -- but Jim pointed it out to me, nice semi-Aristotelian style, when we got to talking about the Baldwin and Delaney connection.

“See what it says?” he asked, about the piece over his desk. I got up, I re-looked, and saw the signature in the bottom corner of Untitled. There it was! Damn!!! “For Jimmy, love Beauford” and a notation connecting the piece to Istanbul, 1966.

Ah !!! The connection! So wonderful to see, via Beauford’s inscription !

There it was. The connection that I knew existed, and here it was, original source evidence, in Delaney’s hand. He knew Baldwin!

I had been drawn in by Baldwin; now it was seeping in: Delaney’s force was also a force to be considered, give more attention. Pay attention. There is, here is, this guy’s art, right in front of me! It’s here, it’s now. It is a link to back then, and back there. Surreal. Then is now.

And Delaney’s handwriting: wonderful. Soft, and lots of up and down. Easy to read; relaxed. It doesn’t convey a huge picture (no pun intended) of the artist, but to my sensibilities, I feel a little closer to a person when I see their handwriting. His spirit, in another way, comes through. This is how he moves, how he moves his hand, when he holds a pen or brush and taps into the common symbols-making called the written word.

“For Jimmy” refers to James Baldwin, of course. The reason I was at the gallery, the reason I was in that office, the reason I became a visual artist, the reason I went to 181 Greene Street, retracing Baldwin’s search, looking for Delaney’s house? James Baldwin. James Baldwin. James Baldwin. He lights up some part of my soul, non-stop. “This little [art] light of mine” is fueled, in large part, by The Man with the big old bulging eyes (which weren’t, really, all that bulging).

Now I was bumping up close to Baldwin’s navigator, his wing man, his source, his rock: Beauford Delaney.

Beauford painted Untitled: Yellow, Red and Black Circles, I’m told, during his first trip to Istanbul, where he visited and stayed with Baldwin.

Some possible sources of inspiration, behind the work, for Delaney? Let’s gird our loins; okay. That’s enough. Let ’er rip, and let’s see what this work is.

It is existential.

It’s phallic, it’s penis and scrotum. It’s long and lean, with a big old tip and the line down the middle. It’s swimming amidst the circles. It’s balls on either side.

It’s yellow, it’s egg, it’s yoke.

It’s male and female, kind of swirly, bumping up right against each other. It’s a fried egg! Sitting in front of two balls. Mr. Penis wriggling his way through the players, and across the canvass.

It is the beginning of LIFE.

It is sunshine and light. It is the birth of “this little light of (yours and) mine.”

It’s where all sentient beings, you and me included, got our start. It is my life, Day One.

It is me, way back before I knew what the fuck was going on. It is from whence I sprang, from whence I swam and made my way, disconnected from, and not yet dependent on, air. A little fish swimming around, fluidy and cellular, with not a care in the world, yet. Not in the world, yet. Not in it and not of it, yet, but forces preparing ‘me’ and getting ‘me’ shaped by the two components seen here, sharing the canvass, as shared way back, when I was exactly this same configuration.

It is my self portrait. It is Beauford. It is Jimmy.

It is the masculine.

Delaney and Baldwin: MEN! Of course, their private parts are of utmost importance. Half kidding, and half ... not.

The Half-not part: It is apropos to paint what we care and think about. We definitely care about our organs, and our sexual organs, very definitely.


For the full article, visit Maureen's Web site at www.beanartbean.com

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Beauford Delaney and Scholarly Inquiry


This post is contributed by E. L. Kornegay, Jr., Ph. D., author of the many "re-Searching Beauford" articles and other posts that you'll find on the Les Amis blog. I am pleased to note that he is using the Les Amis blog as reference material for the course he is teaching!

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E. L. Kornegay, Jr., Ph. D.
Photo courtesy of Dr. Kornegay

During the week of May 20-24, I had the distinct pleasure of teaching a graduate seminar at Chicago Theological Seminary: TEC 474 “Baldwin and Christianity”. The course was my first formal opportunity to present my scholarship as a classroom subject for study. The students were eager to engage me, bringing their particular concerns to the “welcome table” of James Baldwin and the “unusual door” of Beauford Delaney.

Chicago Theological Seminary
Photo courtesy of Dr. Kornegay

Preparation for the class meant that I had to manage class limitations on time and material in order to paint, if you will, the contributions of both men to the world. The lives of the writer and the artist came together in a way that allowed for each student to see, within himself or herself, the possibility of creating a theological aesthetic that reflects an ethical choice – vocation – to create something that somehow speaks to the glory of God.

James Baldwin and Beauford
at the American Cultural Center, Paris
Photo: U.S. Information Service

We devoted a day (Thursday) to Beauford Delaney. The morning was spent reading articles from the Les Amis de Beauford Delaney blog and looking at the various paintings of Beauford found on the blog site. For most, if not all, of the students, it was a first introduction to Beauford Delaney. I gladly told the story of how I found Beauford (or how he found me) and how that led to my connection with Monique and the community that is Les Amis de Beauford Delaney. Upon viewing Beauford’s Dark Rapture, reading Baldwin's “The Creative Process” and being enlightened about his own vocation, an educator writes:

In “The Creative Process," Baldwin captures for me the context in which I, ever incomplete, contemplate vocation: “The precise role of the artist, then, is to illuminate that darkness, blaze roads through that vast forest, so that we will not, in all our doing, lose sight of its purpose, which is, after all, to make the world a more human dwelling place.” Like Beauford's paintings, the work of an educator leads “to a confrontation with reality.” That reality is beauty, goodness, and truth constantly unfolding in changing contexts.

- Ernest Miller

Students discuss Baldwin and Beauford
Photo courtesy of Dr. Kornegay

Vocation became the center piece of our discussion. One of the students, reflected on the “isolation” that is experienced by the artist and the “grace” that is the “moral envelope” or “body canvas” whereby the spiritual-artistic and creative-creational come to protect the gift, often at the expense of the gifted One. A viewing of Beauford’s self-portrait at the Art Institute of Chicago was meant to capture the face of vocation – to see first-hand the body as a moral canvas.

Self-portrait
Oil on canvas (1944)
Art Institute of Chicago
© Estate of Beauford Delaney, by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire, Court Appointed Administrator

After the viewing, a student wrote:

I was an artist for many years. Once an artist always an artist, but now I do not practice creativity in the same way. It is no longer my vocation. It is still, however, my deepest connection to God. In fact, during my Good Friday sermon I performed a stand-up routine. People need to laugh. It brings them closer to God. As do poetry, painting, sculpture, music, fiction, architecture, theatre, dance, and film. Whatever form my vocational ministry takes next, making art will certainly be part of it as it has for the past few dozen forms my ministries have taken. Art is the expression of God through love. There is no higher form of worship.

- Johnny Kline

This “deep connection to God” is a backdrop that is readily apparent in the work of Beauford and Baldwin and it was quickly picked up on by the class. The Les Amis website, with its paintings, reflections, and its spirit, along with first-person viewing of Beauford’s painting, the reading of Baldwin’s literature, and the viewing of and listening to his interviews, created a spiritual framework whereby both of these great men taught us something about them and in the process taught us something about ourselves and our vocations. As one student put it, through it all neither Baldwin nor Delaney, in the midst of their searching and disillusionment with religion, “lost their intense love for God.” I imagine that the students, much like the young James Baldwin who stepped through the unusual door presented to him by Beauford, are grateful for the sacred, creative and affirming space, which gave Baldwin “the freedom to just be.”

I think my student, Debra Hawkins, said it best:

I greatly appreciated Dr. Kornegay’s authenticity and willingness to be a part of the learning experience along with his students, or more appropriately, co-learners…I come away from this experience enriched and a grateful recipient of the spiritual seeds that have been deposited deep within my spirit, which can never be taken away from me. I am forever grateful for what I am blessed to do and if this is the beginning, then I can joyfully imagine what lies ahead.