City hosts Black His­tory Month ex­hibit

Ex­plore the past, cul­ture through art

The Covington News - - Local news - By Jenny Thompson

Cov­ing­ton Mayor Kim Carter pro­claimed the month of Fe­bru­ary as Black His­tory Month at the open­ing of the month-long 2008 Black His­tory Art Ex­hibit lo­cated at City Hall.

“Each year dur­ing Black His­tory Month, all Amer­i­cans are en­cour­aged to re­flect upon and ex­plore the his­tory and cul­ture of black Amer­i­cans,” Carter said, “in or­der that we may dis­cover anew and never for­get this great trea­sure of his­tory about the tri­umph of hu­man will and spirit.”

City Coun­cil mem­bers Ocie Franklin, Hawnethia Wil­liams and Janet Good­man also at­tended the ex­hibit open­ing.

“We have three of the best lo­cal African-Amer­i­can his­to­ri­ans in town in our coun­cil mem­bers,” Carter said.

The art­work dis­played in the lobby of City Hall was cre­ated by lo­cal black artists Ernie Call­away and Mary Thompson.

Call­away has brought his large clay heads to the dis­play for six years. Each year the heads, which each take ap­prox­i­mately 160 hours to make, are dif­fer­ent.

“Once I start on one it’s just there,” Call­away said. “It’s like ther­apy.”

Each has dif­fer­ent fea­tures, glazes, tex­tures or col­ors.

“I look at peo­ple and I see their fea­tures,” Call­away said, “and then I just bor­row parts.”

For this year’s ex­hibit, he also carved a head out of a block of 800-year-old wood that once served as a beam in a barn.

Call­away first be­gan sculpt­ing in 1983 when he was a cus­to­dian at Mercer Univer­sity in Ma­con. An art stu­dent had dis­posed of a large chunk of clay and Call­away took it into a closet and made his first sculp­ture.

Upon see­ing his affin­ity with clay, Mercer art pro­fes­sors al­lowed him to sit in on classes.

Last year Call­away also be­gan mak­ing neck­laces out of fallen deer antlers. He placed a neck­lace on each of the six heads in the ex­hibit.

“That way it’s some­thing be­ing used and the an­i­mal is not hurt,” Call­away said.

For a sec­ond year, he brought al­most twenty hand-carved canes and walk­ing sticks to the ex­hibit. He first made one for a wo­man in Ma­con who re­quested his crafts­man­ship.

“I said ‘I’ve never made one,’” Call­away said, “and she said ‘but you can.’”

Af­ter mulling her words over and over in his head, he fi­nally made one for her. To­day he has carved more than 100.

“Na­ture’s al­ready done the art,” Call­away said. “I just need to mod­ify what’s al­ready there.”

Mary Thompson has long been a col­lec­tor of his­tor­i­cal items.

This year, her fourth dis­play­ing her items, she de­cided to make themed col­lages of her pho­to­graphs and mag­a­zine clip­pings. Some of the themes in­clude jazz, blues, North­ern Mi­gra­tion, the bar­ber shop, slav­ery, Re­con­struc­tion and sports.

Thompson be­gan show­ing her his­tor­i­cal items af­ter help­ing her son with a black his­tory project for school. Sev­eral teach­ers wanted her to come to their class to ex­plain the in­for­ma­tion pre­sented in the project.

“I knew that I had to con­tinue be­cause I had so much stuff,” Thompson said. “I felt like it needed to be seen by more peo­ple than me.”

She said she en­joys shar­ing her col­lec­tion with oth­ers and thinks retelling sto­ries of the past is highly im­por­tant to form­ing a cul­ture’s iden­tity and to fu­ture progress.

To­mor­row she will give a black his­tory pre­sen­ta­tion at 7 p.m. at the New­ton County Li­brary where she will walk at­ten­dees from Africa to 2008.

“Even if I didn’t open my mouth, my ex­hibit tells a story,” Thompson said.

Call­away agreed with Thompson that ev­ery­one needs to be will­ing to ed­u­cate younger gen­er­a­tions on what hap­pened be­fore they ar­rived.

Carter thanked Call­away and Thompson for tire­lessly giv­ing sup­port to the preser­va­tion of lo­cal black his­tory.

“The City of Cov­ing­ton de­sires to rec­og­nize the ded­i­cated and of­ten un­told ef­forts of black men and women ev­ery­where,” Carter said, “for their con­tri­bu­tions to­ward the cre­ation of the healthy, di­verse and cul­tur­ally rich Amer­i­can way of life that we all en­joy to­day.”

Mandi Singer/The Cov­ing­ton News

To­geth­erl: Just mo­ments af­ter Cov­ing­ton Mayor Kim Carter signed a Black His­tory Month Procla­ma­tion Thurs­day af­ter­noon, Cov­ing­ton City Coun­cil mem­bers gath­ered with the artists fea­tured in the Black His­tory Month Dis­play at the Cov­ing­ton City Hall. Pic­tured are Coun­cil­woman Ocie Franklin, left, artist Ernie Call­away, Coun­cil­woman Hawnethia Wil­liams, Carter, artist/his­to­rian Mary Thompson and Coun­cil­woman Janet Good­man.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.