Paintings from painful memories of a childhood spent in the shadows of slave quarters
Growing up as an African American in north Louisiana in the 1930s and 1940s, Sarah Albritton managed
to take care of herself in her own way. On her journey away from the pain
of poverty, abuse, and racism she experienced, Sarah Albritton has expressed
herself in a variety of artistic modes: food preparation, restaurant decor,
yard art, Christmas decorations, autobiographical prose and poetry, and
most recently, narrative combined with paintings.
This collection of her first touring exhibition
includes forty-nine paintings in full color accompanied by Albritton's
stories as transcribed by folklorist Susan Roach. While other self-trained
women artists celebrate the glories of the past, there is a stark reality
to Albritton's work. Her people are still plowing in the near dark of evening.
Her happy children are swimming in polluted streams. There are angels and
lightning in her skies. And when she tells her stories, they are direct
but never maudlin--"I was born in hell," she says. "I grew up in hell."
But there is a perseverance running through
My Way. The colors here, often grays, browns, and muted greens, rise
and converge as do many of her images of people flying to freedom or walking
trails. As John Michael Vlach says in his foreword, "The essential point
to be taken here is that Albritton's confidence and her will to survive
may owe much to the examples of courage and endurance widely available
in the African American community from elders who had known the days of
Susan Roach, folklorist and professor of
English, writes an introduction that merges Albritton's biography with
the many arts she practices. Peter Jones, artist and professor of art at
Louisiana Tech University, gives us the national context of Albritton's
work and traces her development as a practicing creator.
Sarah Albritton is a Ruston, Louisiana, restauranteur and owner of
Sarah's Kitchen. Born in Arcadia in 1936, she has devoted much of
her life to the culinary arts and has conducted cooking demonstrations
for the Louisiana World Exposition and the Smithsonian Festival of American