The From Africa to Appalachia Foundation for Education and the Arts is presenting its 31st annual celebration of Black History Month with an opening reception and program on Sunday, Feb. 3, beginning at 2 p.m. at Rose Center in Morristown. This year’s exhibit is “ ‘I Have a Dream’ – Ciapha’s Vision,” featuring the work of Alan Jones (Theophilus) and Hawa Ware. Each artist is multi-talented and will present art in a variety of media including oil, watercolor, acrylic, and collage.
Beginning at 3 p.m. there will be a program in Rose Center’s Prater Hall featuring talks by the artists, and musical selections from Yolanda Treece, Wallace Coleman, and Mt. Olive Baptist Church Choir. Still awaiting confirmation is a dance group.
The Rose Service Guild is hosting the reception and providing refreshments.
Alan Jones, painting under the name “Theophilus” (friend of God), focuses mostly on Biblical themes, black heritage, and social statements.
Jones has been showing his work in a variety of venues for many years but his most well-known works are likely the murals he has completed on public buildings found from Chattanooga to Morristown.
The mural at New Hope Recovery Center in Morristown is dedicated to the memory of founder Dee Francis and her hope of helping those suffering from drug and alcohol addictions.
Another highly visible project of Jones’ is the frieze on the Black Cultural Center building on the University of Tennessee campus in Knoxville.
The impressive 5-foot by 80-foot mural was designed by a committee from UT and drawn by Jones. Following Jones’ work, brick sculptor Sue Landerman created the bricks that made up the striking frieze.
The frieze depicts ancient African leaders and continues through the African Diaspora, Middle passage and slavery. Continuing through African American history many early leaders and their contributions are represented culminating with images of successful pioneers who broke the color barriers in their fields. It ends with the hope of a recent graduate holding a diploma.
Hawa Ware is a native of Liberia currently residing with her husband and children in Knoxville. Her passion for art started from the time she started using a pencil, around elementary school but really became consuming when she was around the age of 12.
That was during a time when a civil war broke out in her country.
Her family had to flee for their lives. Hawa took a backpack of a few clothes, mostly food and a small tray of watercolor paint to start a new life as a refugee in neighboring Ivory Coast.
There, she was not in school and found herself with a great deal of time on her hands.
Art was the place of escape from that life that was becoming almost hopeless. Instead of thinking about how hungry she was, she would do some watercolor or ask her cousin to model for her to practice her drawing skills. Once in a while she’d get a small commission that helped to buy food. After three years of living in the Ivory Coast, her family was accepted to be resettled in the US. Knoxville, Tennessee was the location they would make as their new home.
The title of the exhibit at Rose Center, “I Have a Dream – Ciapha’s Vision” comes from Hawa Ware’s father, Ciapha. Ciapha Ware was waiting in exile here in the US in hopes of returning home after the war to develop a sustainable program to better the life of farmers and agriculture work. He had his ticket purchased and was set to return in April of 2009 but passed away shortly before then from an aggressive cancer. He was also an economist and avid farmer, had a little garden in Knoxville that grew pepper and other plants that were favorites from his native land. He worked at DCS for about 10 years in Knoxville and retired to go home before he got sick. It is now his daughter’s dream to help create a community center that will benefit those living in an isolated area in central Liberia. The project, Liberian Dream is being developed with the help of Capstone Ministries, Bethany Missionary Baptist Church, and IAM Ministry.