Black, female artists are center stage of new Anton exhibit, ‘From Where I Sit’

Kimberly Bryant, an electrical engineer and founder of a nonprofit group for young girls of color, told Black Enterprise, “Anytime you get more than a couple of black women together, you’re creating this powerful mechanism for change.”

“From Where I Sit” is proof of that.

The new exhibit at the Anton Art Center in Mount Clemens created by 80 black women of Macomb County and being presented by the Interfaith Center for Racial Justice features an array of portraiture, text, and three-dimensional artwork created using chairs of the artists’ choosing.

While each piece presents a unique and compelling narrative about the history and accomplishments of the artist and her ancestors, collectively the exhibit creates a moving portrayal of the important and often silent role these women have played in making the county what it is today.

“This is my great grandmother who got me to church and this is my mother who encouraged me to think positively,” said Michelle Williams-Ward of Roseville, pointing to a few of the photographs on her chair. “They planted the seeds.”

Thus the name of her chair, “Planted Seeds.”

Deborah Miller and Diana Brabson of Port Huron, along with Valerie Scott-Price admire the piece Sharon Taylor created for the
Deborah Miller and Diana Brabson of Port Huron, along with Valerie Scott-Price admire the piece Sharon Taylor created for the “From Where I Sit” exhibit appearing at the Anton Art Center through Oct. 10. (Photo by Gina Joseph — MediaNews Group)

Although prominently displayed, her mother and great grandmother’s photographs appear with dozens of other images and stickers representing the people and things that have helped Williams-Ward remain optimistic; whether in her role as the mother of three, active member of the Roseville Community Schools Board of Education or on duty at the Macomb Correctional Facility.

“Even in that negative environment I stayed positive,” Williams-Ward mused, recalling how the inmates would question and tease the fantastic attitude that she maintained in a place like prison. Then she would point out all of the things that give her reason to celebrate.

“It’s kind of what we all do here,” she said. “People and things try to keep us down but we rise above it.”

That’s what many of the chairs in the exhibit are saying.

“I love it. They’re all beautiful and so unique,” said Deborah Miller of Port Huron, who came to see the exhibit spearheaded by Carol Sullivan and Lynette Holmes, executive director and president of the Interfaith Center for Racial Justice.

Mary Palazzola concurred.

“I’ve enjoyed the stories they tell,” said the local artist viewing the “Queens” chair created by Scott-Price.

“I made my chair for all of the women who have impacted my life,” Scott-Price said, including her mother; who raised her and her four sisters on her own and her aunt who never failed to remember her birthday and what it means to have someone encouraging you throughout your life.

“She always wrote me a letter,” Scott-Price said. “This is the one she sent on my 24th birthday.”
Written in cursive at the top of the letter was believe in yourself and your dreams.

“There is a lot of positive energy here,” she added. “I hope that will be passed on to all of the people who come here to see the exhibit.”

History definitely plays a big role in this exhibit but love is also a theme that runs through it, be it a girl’s passion for science and astronomy or a woman’s love for her mother.

As in the case of Sharon Taylor’s tribute to Shurley Mae Williams.

Valerie Scott-Price of Clinton Township said her piece titled,
Valerie Scott-Price of Clinton Township said her piece titled, “Queens” represents all of the women who have had an impact on her life. (Photo courtesy of Valerie Scott-Price)

“She did what mothers do,” said the St. Clair Shores artist. “She taught me all about life; the trials and triumphs. She was caring, giving, loving towards family and people. A motivator and very determined, with a just do it, get it done attitude. She was my best friend and greatest supporter. She grew up in Macomb County. She passed away at age 71 in 2001. I miss her immensely.”

“From Where I Sit” will be on display on the first floor of the Anton Art Center at 125 Macomb Place through Oct. 10. Visitors can stop by anytime during normal business hours, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

“We believe that art has the power to widen perceptions, ignite conversations, and offer meaningful experiences,” says Stephanie Hazzard, the exhibition manager at the Anton Art Center. “‘From Where I Sit’ creates a space for viewers to explore this potential and foster a deeper understanding of our community and history.”

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