Going Back Home : An Artist Returns to the South

Overview

More than half a century after her family moved North to find a better life, African American artist Michele Wood returned to the South to see and feel the land where her ancestors lived. In her first book for children, Wood presents her paintings inspired by this personal journey. Igus interprets her visual images and family stories. Full color.

Narrative text describes the artist's paintings and their portrayal of the lives of her...

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Overview

More than half a century after her family moved North to find a better life, African American artist Michele Wood returned to the South to see and feel the land where her ancestors lived. In her first book for children, Wood presents her paintings inspired by this personal journey. Igus interprets her visual images and family stories. Full color.

Narrative text describes the artist's paintings and their portrayal of the lives of her African American relatives in the rural American South.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Wood, an artist raised in Indiana who now lives in Atlanta, explores her family's rural Southern heritage in this unusually lyrical meditation on African American history. As Igus supplies the text for Wood's first-person narration, the art combines African decorative motifs with images from the American experience. In richly patterned paintings evocative of African fabrics, Wood depicts the emotional undercurrents of slavery, sharecropping, and the movement north; she also shows the happier rituals of church-going and wedding celebrations. Throughout, her sensuous style gives hard realities such as picking cotton and pumping water a sweet dignity. Portraits of the black cowboy Nat Love and a porch-sitting guitar player make important points about African American contributions to American history and culture. Wood's ruminations, expressed in Igus's serviceable prose, broaden the impact of the paintings, whether she is describing her grandmother's courage in eating for the first time at a formerly segregated restaurant or explaining the life-affirming symbolism that informs the memorable self-portrait that closes the book. Ages 6-12.
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
African American artist Woods took a journey to the South to better understand herself and her heritage. The story of her family and her personal journey are accompanied by boldly patterned and vividly colored paintings. Each painting fills a page while the text on the opposite page is set off by one of four bold border patterns. Her unusual art begs closer examination and is bound to provoke discussion.
School Library Journal
(Gr. 4 - Up) Through vivid, mosaiclike paintings, Wood skillfully depicts her African-American family, her rich heritage, and ethnic motifs. Her expressionist style of painting is reminiscent of the work of John Biggers and Romare Bearden; the full-page, full-color reproductions are arrestingly beautiful and haunting. "Sunday Morning" and an unnamed picture of a blues singer are especially provocative. However, Igus's text is not a strong as the art. It largely interprets the painter's "scraps of memories," explaining her visual images and family references rather than telling a story. Beyond the mention of the period after the Civil War, the narrative provides no time frame for the artist's move back to the South, the exodus of black people to the booming northern industries, or when Nat Love "became...one of the best cowboys of his time." Gwen Everett's lively Li'l Sis and Uncle Willie (Rizzoli, 1991) is a story about the life and art of William H. Johnson. The Great Migration(HarperCollins, 1993) relates an important chapter in American history through the art of Jacob Lawrence. Youngsters can use Wood's stunning artwork as a starting point to explore and weave their own family tales. --Marie Wright, University Library, Indianapolis, IN
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780892391974
  • Publisher: Lee & Low Books, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/9/2004
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 1,001,190
  • Age range: 6 years
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 10.50 (h) x 0.20 (d)

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