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 is open to our children and the future, along with seemingly unlimited possibilities. 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 and sustain a healthy, prosperous life for both people's environments. A vast array of arts and religions stimulates greater creative genius and healthy souls.  Yet, over half the world's children 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 responded 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 associated with and believed to be warfare. Looking at the images that photojournalists are documenting in LIFE Magazine and other periodicals, the starving resemblances of babies and the American public ask why they are still procreating in a wartime climate?  Where is the father of these starving children? Again, 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.

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. Moreover, war rape may occur in various 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 black or white. Still, a time to show compassion, homelessness will imprint 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 the 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 '30s; 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 families by the doctor who 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 where they were born. But, the tragedy was that the family that fought to get them back failed to protect them. Instead, they became prey to the father and were oppressed by the mother that had no time to bond with them. 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 a government system has failed children yet again, as a Judge in Florida is being charged with 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 -

1994, a study was done on the percentage of first births conceived out of wedlock have almost tripled since the 1930s, 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," emotionless faces, 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.


AFRO Awards Ceremony 2013 Honors- Alpha Bruton

The African American Historical and Cultural Museum of the San Joaquin Valley awarded artist Alpha Bruton, as an honoree for the 2013 AFRO Awards, honoring women that give back to their communities. Bruton was noted for how she has worked with the Executive Director, providing professional development training, and connecting him to resources with the California Association of Museums. In 2012 she curated the new installation of the State Community College District Wall of Fame for the museum.
Gregory Melancon Executive Director of the Museum began the Afro Awards in 2011to acknowledge and honor the accomplishments and contributions of African American Women from Fresno California who have aspired, and contributed to careers in the arts, education, health, humanities, law, nursing, science, social work, and political fields.
Alpha Bruton, pictured with lifelong friend Babette Stevenson of Fresno, CA
In 1984, the African American Historical and Cultural Museum was established to provide a vehicle for African Americans that had made significant contributions to the richness of the San Joaquin Valley. Jack Kelly Gallery features 3 cultural exhibits per year, that stay up for two months before rotating out. This gives the community an opportunity to visit the museum during Art Hop which is held the first Thursday of each month, 5-8pm, the museum is open to the public on Thursday, Fridays and Saturday, Noon - 5pm.
African American History and Cultural Museum of the San Joaquin Valley
1857 Fulton St Fresno, CA 93721
 Alpha Bruton- at the AAHCM- 
 Bruton is the founder, of the Phantom Gallery Chicago Network, 2005,
 and currently  services as the Director of the (PGCN) Board of Directors, since its incorporation in 2012.

Installation in Berlin, at the 1st International Exhibition Berlin Art Club 
Painting in the studio of Susanne in Berlin, Germany, 2012
Bruton completed her Masters of Art in Administration Program at the School of the Art Institute, Chicago, in May 2001. Formal training in studio art, art education, dance production, theater arts, and art gallery management gives Bruton the foundation to manage art education programs. Currently, she is an artist and art consultant, not a teaching artist listed in the Illinois Arts Council Arts Education Program Roster, and a vendor for Chicago Public School. In addition, she is a member of the OpenWall Committee of the 47th Ward. This committee promotes artists and art organizations by hanging art on the walls of Alderman Ameya Pawar's office.

Bruton has served as a board member of Borderbend Arts Collective, a producer of the Chicago Calling Arts Festival, where local Chicagoans call out to artists in other cities, states, nationally, and internationally to engage them in collaborative projects highlighted during Chicago Artists Month in a two- a week-long festival during Chicago.

Bruton's current inspiration comes from her work in arts in wellness and environmental art projects. After completing a six-month residency at Oak Forest Hospital, in 2002, she started reflecting on how her piece affects lives. As a result, she started her series of vibration sound narratives that teach our bodies at all levels how to have a new experience. 

Bringing us into focus with the opportunities to choose new ways to live out our lives in each unique moment, they seem to mirror to us things that we have forgotten about ourselves, reminding us just how powerful we are in changing our reality. 

Experimental Art Installations and Performance Art

Borderbend Arts Collective, Inter-Faith Peace Concert, Living Sculptures.
These explorations affect her personally because she is examining what transpires between the audience and the canvas. As an installation artist, she stages experiences; in her performance art, she creates an observational view for others as spectators. As in this performance art piece performed using living sculptures, created site specific at the Chicago Temple in April of 2008, each model, and music was improvised, and choreographed on location for the Interfaith Peace Concert. 
Performance Art at the Chicago Temple, 2008
Scope of the Wiki Installation 2009
 "Snow Cones" to "Snow Peas"

Is an Installation produced for the Synesthetic Plan of Chicago 2009 at the Department of Cultural Affairs Tourism Information Center? This blog is a continuation of one module's journey to various artist- spaces and neighborhoods in Chicago. "Snow Cones" documents the mapping of street vendors and candy stores that provide treats for areas during the summers in Chicago. "Snow Peas" documents the movement of the module through green spaces.

Environmental Art Installations 

She will continue her exploration this summer with the MAP Gallery of Myths, Stories, and Living Tradition in Auburn, CA, by installing a "land trust," a building. The project is co-sponsored by the Visual Arts Development Project of Northern California, Rituals and traditions, a two-week artist in residency May 13th - May 25th, in Placer County. 

The project has proposed to create a living land trust for outdoor Altar Installations, a Continuum: MAP Gallery of Myth, Stories, and Living Tradition Breathing Life into the Gallery 2013.