Portrait Prints

Anne Spencer's Garden


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  • Details
    Print is available on ARCHIVAL MATTE PAPER in sizes 9x12", 11x14", 18x24"
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    I first learned about Anne Spencer because my children attended school right near her home and walked there on a field trip. Later, my children attended the once segregated (all black) high school where Anne Spencer was the librarian, and would bring her own books to the tiny library to share with students. It was the only library available to African Americans at the time.
    Anne amazes me for her talent, but also the grit she must have had in the face of discrimination and injustice. The way she and her husband, Edward, designed and built their own home and used it for all kinds of good is inspiring. In 1913 the Anne and her husband and other community members founded the Lynchburg chapter of the NAACP, meeting in their house to create the charter. James Weldon Johnson, a writer and civil rights activist who worked for the NAACP, visited later and became aware of Anne’s writing. With Johnson’s encouragement, she published about 30 poems in the 1920s and early 1930s, in magazines such as Opportunity and the NAACP’s The Crisis. Her work was widely anthologized at the time. However, Anne didn’t care about being published, and later wrote for herself.
    Her poetry and spirit drew African American writers, artists, and activists from around the country to visit her as they traveled through Virginia. Her house and garden became welcoming, safe spaces for serious conversation. Since there were no hotels for African Americans in Lynchburg, many famous African Americans stayed at Anne’s house (Langston Hughes, George Washington Carver, Thurhood Marshall, Martin Luther King Jr, W.E.B. Du Bois, etc!).
    I painted her portrait to honor her legacy in my city and in American history. I studied her face in an old photograph and tried to do a little research and include plants and flowers that once grew in her garden: day lilies, roses, peonies, water lilies, and narcissus, nasturtiums, to name a few. I made Anne’s cheeks rosy to show that she lives on through her poetry and through her garden. ❤️
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