Center for Distance Learning Mentor Menoukha Case Shows in "Uncle Remus Redux" at Greene County Council on the Arts

By Menoukha Case, mentor, Center for Distance Learning

February 7, 2012

Menoukha Case's QuiltCenter for Distance Learning mentor Menoukha Case has two visual poem/quilts in “Uncle Remus Redux: Contemporary Visions of How Time Goes by Turns,” on display at the Greene County Council on the Arts Catskill Gallery until Feb. 25.

The show began as an idea to invite artists and writers to retell African American songs, folktales and stories for an exhibit celebrating Black History month.

Case’s painted paper and cloth patchwork quilts feature dialogue and animal characters from the Uncle Remus stories to create visual poems. "Deluge" registers sustenance of old beliefs in water stories: the crawfish deluge sans Noah’s Ark; the African origins of baptism; and inter-species communication. "Candy Pullin’" takes the form of a Yoruba divining board on which animals and plants meet in ceremonial gathering to honor the undercurrent of women in Uncle Remus stories.

Writer Sam Truitt, managing editor at Station Hill Press, agreed to curate the show and invited fellow poet, Randall Horton, as a collaborator. Horton is editor-in-chief at Tidal Basin Review, which pairs the voices and visions of writers' and visual artists' work on humanistic themes in beautifully designed editions from this Washington, D.C.-based publication. Station Hill Press is the legendary publisher of avant garde art and literary books in Barrytown, N.Y.

Truitt chose the Uncle Remus Br’er Rabbit stories as a centralizing theme. This group of projects is based on a series of seven books written in 1881 by journalist Joseph Chandler Harris in post-reconstruction Atlanta, Ga. The fictional character Uncle Remus relates a collection of oral folklore written in the Gullah dialect of plantation slaves. Br’er Rabbit, the main character, is an amiable fellow, a trouble-maker and a trickster often pitted against Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear. In one memorable tale drawn from African folklore, Br’er Fox constructs a tar baby, dresses it and leaves the trap on the roadside. Br’er Rabbit is offended that the tar baby doesn’t answer his greeting, punches him and gets stuck, a cautionary tale referring to a problem that gets worse as one struggles with it.

“Uncle Remus Redux” is part of a two-part exhibition which includes “African American Stories,” a simultaneous exhibit of contemporary works in painting, sculpture, photography and multi-media forms by artists of color from the region curated by Euphema Robinson.

The GCCA Gallery is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, contact 518-943-3400 or visit www.greenearts.org.