Art Exhibit “Which Way Our Children?

An African American Perspective
Closing March 31, 2013
Daily 10AM-4PM

Chicago Temple Gallery
77 W. Washington Street, 2nd Fl.
Chicago, Illinois 60602

Co-Curators: Patricia Devine-Reed invited each artist to respond to, through our art, "What is the future for our children?"

In the 21st century, the world, along with seemingly unlimited possibilities, is open to our children and the future. Communications technologies allow instant contact, face-to-face conferencing, and networking anywhere in the world.  Other technologies enable us to utilize the sun, wind and all the powers of nature, science and history to create and build nearly anything along with sustaining a healthy, prosperous life for both people environment. A vast array of arts and religions stimulates greater creative genius and healthy souls.  Yet, well over half the children of the world cannot access these rich resources because of poverty, poor education, inadequate food, prejudice, wars and other violence.  What is the future for our children?  Can we… how do we enable our children, the world’s children, to obtain and use global resources for a just world? 

This collage was in response to a group traveling exhibition where 36 artists (12 Vancouver Canada, 12 Sacramento California, and 12 Mexico City, Mexico) responded to the theme“ENCOUNTER.”

Artist:    Alpha Bruton
Title:      The Encounter: Single Parenting
Dimensions- 36” x 36”
Mixed Media Collage on Wood, 1993

I reflected on current affairs, news of the famine in Ethiopia as being associated with and believed to be due to warfare. Looking at the images that photo journalists are documenting in LIFE Magazine, and other periodicals, the starving resemblances of babies and the American public asking the question why they are still procreating in a war time climate?  Where is the father of these starving children? Turning a blind eye, and a death ear to the genocide of a group of people; not only in Ethiopia but in the other wartime countries that are being systematically and psychologically humiliated by the enemy.

That these acts of forcible genocides are on the unborn child; committed by soldiers, other combatants or civilians during armed conflict or war or during military occupation military leaders may actually encourage their soldiers to rape civilians. War rape may occur in a variety of situations, including institutionalized sexual slavery forced upon young girls, and boys.

 The focal point in my collage is of a young girl being seduced by a glass of wine, a song, a dance, a whisper of seduction, lured into a one night stand, pre-marital creation, and another generation reproducing itself.

An embrace from a white stranger on Thanksgiving Day as a young African-American mother and child watch their home being burned, in times like these it is not a black or white, but a time to show compassion, homelessness will be the imprint on so many children in the 21st Century amongst all the technology and social growth as a nation.
Then there stands the image of Lazarus, and what comes to mind is the most powerful scripture “Jesus Wept”.


Artist:Alpha Bruton
Title:"LIKE" Young Brides-Children 1937 – 1939
Dimensions-24” x 24”
Mixed Media Collage on Wood, 2013 (a work in progress)


Finding these images for my collage was purely random. I was looking through a box of vintage LIFE Magazines dated 1936 to 1941; I selected these images because they were used in articles with caption that read: “The age of parenthood declines as young girls marry.” The content disturbed me as I turned the pages of history, and saw how off centered the moral needle was in the United States during the 30’s; Incest being the biggest taboo in our "civilized" society.

  “DIONNE QUINTUPLETS 05/17/1937.  I selected these images because the girls were  taken from their family, by the doctor that delivered them, put on display as lab rats for nine years, exploited to the tune of millions of dollars, even a tourist trade was set up around the town they were born. But, the tragedy was that the family that fought to get them back failed to protect them. They became prey to the father, and oppressed by the mother that had no time to bond with them, in order to control the money the government paid them to use their babies as a social experiment.  It is 2013, and I’m listening to a news flash where yet again a government system has failed children, as a Judge in Florida is being charged of sentencing youth to years of detention to support his lavish lifestyle at the expense of systematic abuse to hundreds of children.

 “Trends in Premarital Childbearing: 1930 to 1994, a study was done on the percentage of first births conceived out of wedlock have almost tripled since the 1930’s, according to the U.S. Census. Growth in the proportion of first births born premaritally grew five-fold, to women ages 15 to 29 the comparable figure for African American women doubled, from 43 percent to 86 percent of first births to women 15-19 years.

“STREET SHOWER 07/19/1937”, a little black girl playing in the streets, having the time of her life, while others watch on. Faceless, nameless, but as I turned the pages of the LIFE Magazine no other images of black girls, black women. So I read on and see the face of Wartime children and the caption “Wartime Childhood”, faces that are emotionless, blank stares, I wonder what has happened behind the blankness. I wonder why it takes the torture and unimaginable beating of a child to change laws in the United States to protect them from their own families which is not black or white, and why even in the 21st Century the moral compose is still not centered.