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Last Updated: August 8, 2023

February 01

Black Lives Matter

"Ida B. Wells," multiple block woodcut by TNLG printmaker Julie Lapping Rivera

This week we welcomed Julie Lapping Rivera to The New Leaf Gallery.

As she and I discussed her printmaking practice, Julie explained the impetus to create “Look Again,” a portfolio of woodcut and collage portraits. Wanting to shift from feeling discouraged by the political climate, Julie sought something affirmative and positive, particularly regarding women and other marginalized communities.

Meanwhile, she had begun following “Overlooked No More,” a series of obituaries in The New York Times about remarkable people whose deaths, beginning in 1851, went unreported. Julie said, “In their stories, I found the inspiration that I was looking for.” She was moved by the fact that, while each eulogy was unique, they all revealed a common denominator: passion, courage, and commitment.

One of Julie’s subjects, Ida B. Wells, worked tirelessly to promote justice for African Americans.

Ida was an outspoken journalist, activist, founding member of the NAACP, founder of Chicago’s Alpha Suffrage Club, and an early leader in the civil rights movement – all this, despite experiencing the intersectionality of marginalization, being Black and being female.

To accompany Julie’s portrait of Ida B. Wells for an exhibition of her portfolio “Look Again” that, unfortunately, was cancelled due to the pandemic, poet Rage Hezekiah wrote these words:

You fought as only a woman
can fight, thread of tenderness

pulled taut through every violence.
You conjured wings, saying

I would gather my race in my arms
& fly away with them.

The sentiment of Rage's words and inspiration behind Julie's portfolio really resonate.

While the challenges we face are astronomical in scale: systemic racism, climate change, a global pandemic, and economic injustice, indifference is not an option. In 1999, Elie Wiesel said, “To be indifferent to suffering is what makes the human being inhuman.”

Julie’s portfolio “Look Again” surfaces deeply human feelings of gratitude, pride, strength, beauty, and empathy. Feelings of hope that we can make the world a better place for all.

Taryn Fisher, 02.01.2021

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