During the latter part of 2007, I discarded my self-imposed restrictions on my artistic creativity. I began to draw frequently once again after a seven year sabbatical.
This time, on the eve of a half century of living, I am more focused and deeply inspired to plunge into the depths of my being, and through periods of meditative solitude, bring forth art that reflect glimpses of my soul’s journey and archetypal reflections of the human experience and African culture, in particular.
I would wager that my life, more so than most, has been equally touched by the death – scented hands of tragedy and misfortune as well as by a shield of protection and rewards that can be only sanctioned by a spirit of divine intervention.
The creation of art is a sacred act. Real art is not neutral. It stirs emotions and triggers a movement deep in the undercurrent of the psyche and brings to the surface and shore a new way of seeing, a new way of being.
There is a symbiotic relationship between what is occurring in the broadest conception of life and the sounds transmitted through the instruments and mouths of our most gifted vocalists and musicians. I place my ear on the ground and listen closely to the cultural impulse. I hear and feel it in the sound of jazz musicians of African descent, the demands for freedom, the hand outreaching for peace, for harmony in a disharmonious world. I see the tears that swell in the eyes of our prophets and roll off their cheeks upon the bosom of the children and into the fertile soil of the unborn.
I hear and feel that demand, that cry for freedom, in the musical voices of the African drum. I hear that beckoning in the musical voices of John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Lester Young, Billie Holiday, Pharaoh Sanders, Archie Shepp, Louis Armstrong, Nina Simone, Eric Dolphy, Sun Ra, Dave McMurray, James Carter, Elvin Jones, Ron Carter, Wes Montgomery, Grant Green, Horace Silver, Betty Carter, Sarah Vaughn, McCoy Tyner, Kenny Garrett, Marcus Miller, Branford Marsalis, Abdullah Ibrahim, Hugh Masekela, Billie Strayhorn, Charles Mingus, and the countless multitudes. It is that voice captured in the moment of creative expression that I am striving to boldly solidify and bring forth as a timeless image.
I hear the unwavering voice of our great political luminaries whose timeless oratory echo in our cultural soul, the voice of those who fought to uplift the oppressed humanity. I have drawn portraits of Malcolm X, The Honorable Marcus Garvey, Dr. W.E.B. Dubois, Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop, Steve Biko, Frantz Fanon, Amilcar Cabral, General Baker, Jr. Che Guevara, Frederick Douglass, Fannie Lou Hamer, Dr. John Henrik Clarke, Kwame Ture (Stokley Carmichael) and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Marian Kramer, Sonia Sanchez, Amiri Baraka among others. Through these drawings, I commune with these ancestors and those living stalwarts of human liberation.
These images and sounds are what stir inside of me as I approach the empty 18×24 art pad with a sharpened pencil in hand. Come forth, I whisper. Work is the funnel that transforms these thoughts into a build up of gradients of graphite until the eyes, the nose, the mouth, the skin emerges to announce the presence of a living spirit.
This is what my art is about. It is my humble attempt to create images that stir emotions of freedom, tenacity, perseverance, hope and victory long after I am a memory.
You can see samples of my work at www.redbubble.com/people/charlesferrell and acquire original works of art by contacting me at email@example.com. This work also appears at: http://artbycharlesezraferrell.blogspot.com.