Menokin Ghost Structure: Playing Catch Up

IN CASE YOU MISSED THEM: DAY 1 AND DAY 2

 

How sad is it that the crew can build an entire structure faster than I can blog about it and post pictures? Very sad.

DAY 3 – Wednesday

The day was made more interesting by the arrival of two groups of horticulture and carpentry students from the Northern Neck Technical Center. Most of the students had never been to Menokin before. I was so pleased to hear many of them say that they “sure didn’t expect it to be like this!”

In case you didn’t know, May is Preservation Month. The “This Place Matters” campaign was started by the National Trust for Historic Preservation many years ago to bring attention to the importance of historic buildings to local communities as well as visitors and enthusiasts.

 

DAY 4 – Thursday

Raise the Roof takes on a whole new meaning when you see it happening. All the chiseling, measuring, staging and peg making were put to the test with the assembly of the structural timbers and the crown of roof rafters. The beautiful bones of the building are a perfect addition to this vast, cultural landscape.

Get Floored By The Progress

The Menokin Ghost Structure: Memoria and Kairos – Day Two

Day One ended with peg manufacturing in full swing (need 80 total), the grade beams of the structure assembled and the chiseling of the mortise and tenon joints well underway.

By lunchtime on Day Two, the floorboards were cut and laid. Preparations for the framing of the walls began in anticipation of the vertical beam raising to take place on Day Three. And let’s not forget the fashion show of the Fab Four students voguing their Menokin hats.

Take a virtual stroll through the pictures and imagine the scent of fresh-cut pine perfuming the air; hear the scrape of draw blades shaping pegs; feel the delicious spring combination of warm sun and cool breeze on your skin and get floored by the progress being made on our newest interpretive tool at Menokin.

The Menokin Ghost Structure: Memoria and Kairos

MAKE SOMETHING WITH YOUR HANDS

This structure will be 15ft x 25ft. The enclosed wall surfaces will be transparent and developed in the future for educational interpretation. Participants are spending the week learning wood working and joinery techniques that were used in the 18th century.

Based on information derived from archaeological excavations, we will be recreating the framework of a dwelling that would have been lived in by Menokin’s field slaves.

DAY ONE: The Work Begins

MAKE SOMETHING WITH YOUR MIND

THE MENOKIN GHOST STRUCTURE serves as a physical metaphor to foster discourse and assist people in forming and participating in conversations about slavery as it relates to the Menokin site, the history of America and current events.

MEMORIA is a Latin term, and can be translated as “memory.” Memoria was the discipline of recalling the arguments of a discourse in classical rhetoric. Creating outline structures of the major arguments of a discourse would also aid memory.

KAIROS dictates that what is said must be said at the right time. In addition to timeliness, kairos considers appropriateness. The term also implies being knowledgeable of and involved in the environment where the situation is taking place in order to benefit fully from seizing the opportune moment.

The size of the building is known from the archaeological evidence. However, because there are no photographs of it, we are recreating only the timber framing of the structure, which will be clad in a transparent sheath. We are calling this building the Ghost Structure: Memoria and Kairos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The design, drawings and renderings of
the Ghost Structure were created by architect Reid Freeman, who also serves on the Menokin Board of Trustees.

 

 

 

True to our unique vision, we are not creating a reproduction of a slave dwelling, but instead a constructed form that will generate dialog about our past, with the flexibility to garner new knowledge, awareness and understanding. Once completed, this structure will be used as an educational classroom, and will serve as the centerpiece in telling the African American story – both past and present – in Richmond County, Virginia and beyond.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Think Outside The Sink

By Alice French | Education and Outreach Coordinator

Spring has finally come and Westmoreland and Essex County 6th graders spent the day at Menokin learning about the Rappahannock River Valley Watershed.

The students from Mrs. Beale’s science classes at Montross Middle School (pictured here) spent their chilly weathered day with several activities including learning how to paddle a canoe, water testing, a special Hard Hat Tour, learning about the daffodils which grow at Menokin, painting with soil and learning about mapping. The students kept warm by keeping active.

The following week, Mrs. Layne’s classes from Essex Intermediate visited on a day with wild changes in the weather! One sure way to get to know your environment is to spend a field day outdoors in the Spring! The unexpected rain changed our morning activities and the students stayed indoors and learned about the making of buildings and the teamwork involved while they got to create some of their own architectural structures. They also got to develop their very own 100 acres of land and learn how what we build effects our watershed. Then with a break in the clouds, we went outdoors for canoe and house tour activities, until the strong gusting spring winds brought everyone back off the water to conclude the day.

This program is part of a partnership with multiple environmental educators. Menokin joined Friends of the Rappahannock and 4H to give these students a fun and educational field day. “A River Runs Through Us” is part of a year long program that allows students to achieve the Virginia mandate of each child having a meaningful watershed experience and teach kids how to continue to be stewards of their waterways.

Insight on the Artists: Beauford Delaney

The Menokin Foundation is currently hosting a traveling exhibit from the VMFA (Virginia Museum of Fine Arts) through the end of March.  These insights are designed to give you a better understanding of the artists and their work. The exhibit is FREE, so don’t miss the opportunity to come see for yourself. 

On display at Menokin is another artist, Beauford Delaney, American, 1901–1979, an American modernist painter. He achieved an artist’s education in Boston where his black activist politics and ideas became established through associations with some of the most sophisticated and radical African-Americans of the time. By 1929, the essentials of his artistic education complete, Beauford decided to leave Boston and head for New York.

Beauford DelaneyGreene Street, 1946
Beauford Delaney Greene Street, 1946

He is remembered for his work with the Harlem Renaissance in the 1930s and 1940s of energetic urban street scenes. Harlem was an exciting place, then the center of black cultural life in the United States. But it was also the time of the Great Depression. Delaney felt an immediate affinity with this city people of all races – spending every night in parks and cafes, surviving on next to nothing. His colorful paintings from his Greenwich Village neighborhood, repeatedly depicting commonplace elements such as fire escapes, lampposts, and hydrants are represented in this painting, Greene Street,1946.

He had many friends among local painters and writers and was an integral part of the artistic life of the community. In time, Delaney would establish himself as a well known part of the art scene. His friends included the poet laureate of the period, Countee Cullen, would become the “spiritual father” to the young writer James Baldwin, and a friend of artist Georgia O’Keeffe and writer Henry Miller among many others. Writer Henry Miller recalled visiting Delaney’s apartment and studio on Greene Street and seeing “some small canvases of street scenes. They were virulent, explosive paintings…They were all Greene Street through and through, only invested with color, mad with color; they were full of remembrances too, and solitudes.”


Delaney_Marian Anderson_1965
Marian Anderson, 1965 

In 1939, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) refused permission for Anderson to sing to an integrated audience in Constitution Hall. The incident placed Anderson into the spotlight of the international community on a level unusual for a classical musician. With the aid of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and her husband Franklin D. Roosevelt, Anderson performed a critically acclaimed open-air concert on Easter Sunday, April 9, 1939, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. She sang before a crowd of more than 75,000 people and a radio audience in the millions.


 

In Greenwich Village, where his studio was, Delaney became part of a gay bohemian circle of mainly white friends; but he was furtive and rarely comfortable with his sexuality.  The pressures of being “black and gay in a racist and homophobic society” was difficult. Delaney had tremendous pride in black achievement and also participated in a number of black artists exhibitions with fellow artists like Jacob Lawrence, and Romare Bearden.

In 1953, at the age of 52, Delaney left New York for Paris. Europe had already attracted many other African-American artists and writers who had found a greater sense of freedom there. Writers Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, Richard Gibson, and artists Harold Cousins, had all preceded him in journeying to Europe. His years in Paris would lead to a dramatic stylistic shift from the figurative compositions of New York life to abstract expressionist studies of color and light. Delaney believed various hues held spiritual significance and was drawn to the color yellow, which he felt possessed the properties of light, healing, and redemption.

 

Insight on the Artists: Charles Wilbert White

The Menokin Foundation is currently hosting a traveling exhibit from the VMFA (Virginia Museum of Fine Arts) through the end of March.  These insights are designed to give you a better understanding of the artists and their work. The exhibit is FREE, so don’t miss the opportunity to come see for yourself. 

On display at Menokin this month is a reproduction from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts of The Guitarist, 1959. Charles White’s meticulously executed drawings and paintings speak of and affirm the humanity and beauty of African American people and culture.

From VMFA transcripts, Charles White said this of his work:

“I believe in the transcendent power of music.  I studied the violin  for about nine years.  My mother insisted on music, even though art was the most important thing for me.  Later, I became interested in dance and I studied modern dance for awhile.  I also illustrated a book, Songs Belafonte Sings.  Harry Belafonte and I have been very close friends for a number of years, and he’s been a great help to me in expressing my ideas in art.

I guess the most important thing is to say something that is meaningful.  I’ve boiled it down to three things I’ve essentially tried to do.  The first is that I try to deal with truth, as truth may be revealed in my personal interpretation.  Truth in a very spiritual sense, underscoring the sense of the inner man.  Second, I try to deal with beauty; the beauty in man and the beauty in life.  I come from the perspective that man is basically good.  I’ve lived in the South, and we’ve had 5 lynchings in my family, and I’ve been beaten up twice, once in New Orleans and once in Virginia.  But in spite of my experiences, and my family’s experiences and tragedies, I still feel that man is essentially good.  I have to start from this premise in all my work because I’m incapable of doing meaningful work that has to do with something I hate.  The third thing I try to deal with is dignity.  I think that once man is robbed of his dignity he is nothing.

I focus primarily on my people and try to give my images universality – meaning an enduring sense of truth and beauty.  I always feel that the artist only does meaningful things when he draws upon that which is closest to him, and he uses that as a springboard to deal with a more broad, all-encompassing subject.  It is only natural to have a special concern to my own people – their history, their culture, their struggle to survive in this, a racist country.  I’m proud of being black.  However, my philosophy doesn’t exclude any nation or race of people.”

Charles Wilbert White (April 2, 1918 – October 3, 1979)

Charles White is one of America’s most renowned and recognized African-American & Social Realist artists. He worked primarily in black & white or sepia & white drawings, paintings, and lithographs. His artwork encompassed an incredibly skilled draftsmanship and artistic sensitivity and power that has reached and moved millions. Common subjects of his artwork included scenes depicting African-American history in the United States, socio-economic struggles, human relationships, and portraits.

He is best known for his WPA era murals, especially The Contribution of the Negro to American Democracy, a mural at Hampton University, depicting a number of notable blacks including Denmark Vesey, Nat Turner, Peter Salem, George Washington Carver, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and Marian Anderson.

Charles Wilbert White was born on the South Side of Chicago. Due to the poverty of his parents, his parents could not afford a babysitter while they worked, so his mother would leave him at the library. This caused a young Charles to develop an affinity towards art and reading at a young age. White received a full scholarship to be a full-time student at the Art Institute of Chicago. White also began working as a Works Progress Administration artist, and was later jailed for forming a union with fellow black artists who were being treated unfairly and wanted equal rights. 

Following his graduation from the Art Institute of Chicago, White moved to New Orleans in 1941. He taught at Dillard University and was briefly married to famed sculptor and printmaker Elizabeth Catlett who also taught at Dillard. Beyond this, White also taught at the Otis Art Institute from 1965 to his death in 1979.

White and his wife Frances Barrett moved to California in 1956, which was the beginning of White’s career as a Los Angeles artist. He had several shows in Los Angeles, and was represented by the Heritage Gallery.

Charles White was on faculty at Otis Art Institute (now Otis College of Art and Design) from 1965 to 1979 where he taught many African American students who came to study with him including Alonzo Davis, David Hammons, and Kerry James Marshall. 

Discover more at https://tinyurl.com/ycd7qky8.

VMFA Traveling Exhibit: African American Mosaic

BY: Alice French | Menokin Education and Outreach Coordinator

Hi! Be sure to attend this traveling exhibit at Menokin until March 31st. It’s called the African American Mosaic. Included in the exhibit are 11 images of art by African Americans from 1850 to present.
Juliana at the selfie wall in the style of Gustav Klimt.

We also have a selfie wall with props, to create a setting similar to a Kehinde Wiley portrait, which we would love you to use and share on social media (just use tag #VFMAatMenokin). Wiley is the portrait artist who just completed Barack Obama’s presidential portrait for the National Portrait Gallery.  

We also have information on Amy Sherald, an African American woman (seeing as it is now Women’s History Month) who painted Michelle Obama’s official portrait for the National Portrait Gallery.

Shantavia Beale II” (detail) by Kehinde Wiley, 2012

This is a great opportunity to expose yourself to world class artwork close to home, and see part of the VMFA’s great collection, which our Statewide Community Partnership allows us to bring to the Northern Neck.

At Menokin it is our goal to continue to share our resources with our community. It’s so important to bring relevant art and history to rural areas like ours.

The exhibit is free and open to the public. But it’s only here until the end of March, so don’t wait too long!

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