Scenes of trains, children and adults dancing during the Great Migration are the subject of a new art exhibition in Dallas Pencil on paper gallery.
Emmanuel Gillespies migration Series looks back to the time of 1910-1970 when African Americans migrated from the South to the North for fairer treatment, educational opportunities, and better jobs.
The series, like much of Gillespie’s art, is his way of understanding black history and origins.
“Most of my work is always researching my past and spending my time figuring out and understanding who I am as a person,” he says. “In exploring the whole idea of migration, I wanted to show different levels of what was going on.”
The exhibition, which will feature around 30 drawings and paintings, combines elements of memory, history and abstraction.
For example, the emphasis on trains and wagons is intended to illustrate the journey of the migrants and which means of transport they mainly used. Scenes of children playing show joy during the transition.
“We always find joy in the midst of this journey that we continue because we migrated from the South because of Jim Crow,” he says. “It’s not always the best for best, but it was better than what we’re missing.”
Through art, history is recorded and ownership is returned to the people who created it.
“I hope that like everything else, this is our story and we should be proud of it. We should have ownership of images that concern us so that we can keep and share ourselves. More importantly, we can’t always go to a museum and see our likeness, so we need to start collecting and owning not just our images, but our history as well.”
Although Gillespie, who is also a full-time teacher in Dallas, has no personal experience with the movement, he has met people who have shared their stories with him.
“It’s interesting that since I’ve been working on displays and hearing stories from other people from different moments, I’ve found that they’re actually from Texas, and they were from California,” he says. “Or they tell me their story about how their uncle went north and eventually came back and then married someone in the south and then went back north.”
A catalog with a few words from his wife Dr. Valerie Gillespie and Dr. Marvin Dulaney of the African American Museum in the works.
The opening reception for both migration and Niki Dionnes get relief will be held this Saturday, November 19th at 5pm at the Pencil on Paper Gallery. The gallery is located at 4755 Algiers St, Suite 100.