Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Reflections on Inspiration

In one of my drawings this semester I drew one of the murals in downtown Durham of Pauli Murray. Whether or not you know who Pauli Murray was, you’ve probably noticed the various murals of her around Durham like this one on Buchanan Blvd.

Pauli Murray Mural on Buchanan Blvd. 

I had noticed the murals during my last 4 years here, but had never taken the time to actually learn about Pauli Murray until now, after I made the decision to draw the mural of her on Foster St. I thought I’d take this blog opportunity to share a little bit more about the woman whose mural inspired one of my drawings for the class!

Pauli Murray Mural on Foster St.

Pauli Murray is known for her civil and women’s rights activism, for her work as a lawyer, and for becoming the first African-American woman ordained as an Episcopal priest. Her connection to Durham is through her roots. After her father fell ill with Typhoid fever, she lived with her aunt here in Durham until the age of 16. Later, while traveling to Durham by bus to visit her family, Murray moved out of a broken seat in the black section of the bus to the white section and refused to move back, leading to her arrest. In addition to that bus, Murray spent much of her life facing rejection due to her gender, race, and her label as a radical. She was rejected from studying law at Harvard University for being a woman, from attending the University of North Carolina for being black, and later lost her post at Cornell for being to radical for the institution's liking. All of these incidents, however, only inspired her to work for change. 

Young Pauli Murray
Despite her death in 1985,  Pauli Murray's work continues to inspire those today who work toward the same equality and social justice that she wanted to see in the world. The Pauli Murray Project here in Durham is dedicated to keeping her vision alive and is also responsible for the murals. The project's goal is to make Durham a better place through the values that Pauli Murray instilled.   

I wish I had realized before I finished the drawing who I was including in my work.  While I really liked my finished product, the objects I inserted into it could have been inspired by the mural instead had I taken the time to learn more before I finished it. I took Drawing partly to get away from the traditional academia and research I've grown so accustomed to over the last few years. I wanted to stop thinking and start creating, and was under the belief that I had nothing to bring to the table when it came to art and could only sit back and learn. What I now realize though, is that I had an academic, research skill set that could have helped make my work meaningful, instead of just demonstrating my drawing skills. Art is not purely creative, and inspiration doesn't necessarily come out of the blue , it's ok for it to take some work and taking the extra steps get myself inspired.   

Thank you for a wonderful semester, and good look getting inspired in any future work you do! I'll leave you with the photo of one more of the amazing murals!



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