Saturday, March 15, 2008

A compelling view of Black life in North Louisiana: Frances Drew exhibit, Artspace Shreveport

The late Frances Drew was the chronicler of the Black Experience in Shreveport. Not until I saw the retrospective created by Pamoja and Shreveport Regional Arts Council at Artspace did I fully understand the comprehensive vision captured in the body of her work.

Frances Drew was a roiling artist; always painting, always talking, writing, observing. In her later years she focused on the life of Jesus, which can be appreciated at
The exhibit at Artspace shows how much territory she covered as a historian prior to her Jesus period.

She picked up the lives of African-American in the country. The viewer sees the piney woods of North Louisiana, the red clay roads, the country-style shacks, the remote churches, the hand-me-down clothing of daily life and the well-fixed dress and hair of people going to church.

Drew portrayed life in Shreveport, too. She saw the almighty struggle of basketball players on a dirt court, the dancers striving to turn powerful muscles into graceful ones. She knew the joy and the stress of life inside a neighborhood pool joint. She captured the way it was in the non-gated communities of the Cooper Road area and in Cedar Grove. She touchingly portrayed the hunger in Black eyes. There she saw hunger for opportunity and respect based on being children of God.

Among the collectors of Drew's work who have loaned these pieces to Artspace are Luther Cox, June Phillips, Drew McMahon, Pam Atchison, the El-Amins and Pamoja.

It is a righteous exhibit. I can imagine it displayed in a special section at the airport, for it captures so well a major, down-home part of the Arklatex experience.

Hope you can visit the Drew area upstairs at Artspace prior to Fri, March 21, the last day of its display.


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