February 21, 2008

Raising Asia

Protecting, supporting

but not needing to grasp

to hold tight

The Mother’s arms raise Asia.

Her golden braids lovingly tied

in a bond tighter than blood alone

In her inspirational book, “Loving and Raising Asia,” author J. Denise Cromwell tells the story of how she and her husband, a young black couple, came to adopt and raise a white child. A young unwed teenage white girl claimed that she was pregnant due to a rape by a black man and Denise and her husband agreed to adopt the girl’s mixed race child. They were faced with a dilemma, however, when the child was born and was not mixed race at all but a white child. Despite having been deceived, the Cromwell’s kept their promise and went through with the adoption, naming the child “Asia.”

I had occasion to meet the author at our local Orangeburg Salon, Rachelle’s Island. Ms. Cromwell was the featured writer that evening and I was the featured visual artist. When we talked about our work, Denise asked me if I would make an art work that featured her story. Generally, I don’t paint upon request unless commissioned to do so (readers can acquaint themselves with my reluctance to do this in a previous blog, “Soutine Heaven Sent”), but this was an interesting story and so I told Denise that I would paint something.

In my painting “Raising Asia,” I eschewed portraiture because I wanted to express something universal about what it means to nurture someone in a such a way as to allow protection with room for growth. I found my inspiration in Denise’s narrative during our dinner talk with the author. When she recounted the story which inspired the book, she began with a premonition she had in the form of a dream about raising a white child. In the dream Denise embraced the child and drew her to her chest. When she came to this part of the narrative, Denise made a gesture drawing her left arm towards her chest and her right hand supporting the imaginary baby. It was a sweeping maternal gesture and its gentleness moved me. The art work attempts to capture this gesture and its generosity.

1 comment:

harriett said...

What a wonderful post! Your art perfectly illustrates the story. We need more awareness of these types of subjects - which are much more edifying than the latest Brittney Spears train wreck. Thanks for sharing - I am going to read that book!