Thoughts on the Evolving Alma Stripe Series

I have been thinking a lot about home/houses, the function of bricks (steps/houses/buildings/institutions/patios), and about the space between people (physical and societal/status). It's come out of working with my Alma stripe series plus all of the hoopla about the elite school scams/privilege-based innocence.

On the stripe itself. The stripe started out (to my mind) as a thread or a fat quarter. The more I use it, the more I see that it functions just as well as a brick and as a flower. It is truly versatile. Alma Thomas just might have been a genius.

On Alma. Artist, yes, but Alma was a teacher and a neighbor, physically connected (in a row house) to the one grandmother and a teacher to the other. She was the unseen link between my two women who never met one another, but who are physically made into one woman through me.

On generational strides. I went to schools with the people who lived in the big house. As such, I am a close to equal to the people who live in the big house as Black women in my family have ever been. My mom drew the floorplan for the big house. My grandmother decorated the big house. My great grandmother was the maid in the big house. My great great grandmother did laundry for the people who lived in the big house. My great great great grandmother was the daughter of the man whose father owned the big house. My great great great great grandmother was owned by the mistress of the big house. Bricks on bricks on bricks. Threads, tightly woven.

On bricks. My mother drew floorplans for Charles E. Smith and other big developers, and my father used to take bricks from construction and deconstruction sites. My grandmother used to take plants and flowers from. Our patios and gardens were entirely built from salvaged material.

On restoring/reparation/mending wall. All of this reminds me of my Uncle Eddie. Uncle served in WWII. He later was tried, convicted, and served 7 years in prison for "stealing less than a dollar." He took restitution by stealing something every time he went into a store.

On mending walls. When I was in 9th grade, I was a poet. One of my favorite poems was Mending Wall. I've considered this poem many times, especially in our recent wall-obsessed world.

"Before I built a wall I'd ask to know/What I was walling in or walling out/And to whom I was like to give offence."

We wall in and out at the same time. 

What then, when a blanket can be transformed into a wall? Is home the warmth of a blanket or the walls of a house? What happens when we change "a home" to "home"? 



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