I have always been inspired by the lithograpgh prints created by African American illustrators. I was, in fact, initially drawn to Elizabeth Catlett, not because of her well known sculptures, but for her famous but lesser known illustration work “Sharecropper”. I have spoken in the past about my love for E. Catlett and how her theory on drawing African Americans has influenced my own portraite drawing. Recently, I was invited to visit Lemon Green, director of student affairs for the Texas Southern University Art Department, at the opening of his exhibition of lithographic works entitled “Is the Way Closed”.
Green credits the creation of his work, which is derived in some cases from photographs of his excursions to Tanzania, to the resources and connections of the TSU Art Department itself. I was falling over myself when I learned the deep and personal relationship has E. Catlett has to Texas Southern University.
Lemon Greens work is tied to the history of draftsmanship John Bigger’s work has left at the Art Department at TSU.
Lemon Green draws influence from the culture of West Africa. Seen in his work is his focus on Mami Wata, the deity known as mother water. She is said not to just control water but to also have influence over anything that involves water even the flow of time itself. Considering the importance of water in the construction of modernity, Mami Wata is more of the West African goddess of modern times.
The large compositions are composite images at heart. As Leamon Green explained, using photographs and models to inspire an idea is how he created this otherworldly landscape above. What draws my eye is the geometric pattern to depict texture on the ground and the use of heavy shadow to depict the shape of the human form.
During the show Lemon Green describes this scence as every day life in Tanzania. He was passenger in a moving vehicle when he snapped a picture of four people sharing a motorcylce ride. He was upset with how blurry the picture came out and decided to recreate the scene in this watercolor painting.
Quickly you can see the influence of his photographs from his travels to Tanzania in his watercolor works.
Overall I was enchanted to be in this artspace. Green is a quiet and paitient artist whose work speaks volumes.