A Child’s Prayer

Silkscreen with gold leaf, 215/8 x 291/4 inches, Edition size: 30

A Child’s Prayer depicts the progression of human communication. It blends notions of internal dialogue, oral history, marks, glyphs, mechanically printed text, the photographic image, electronic signals, animation, and film stills. Layering colors, text, images, and braille-size morse code creates new “characters”­­­­—in both an alphabetic and storytelling sense. In tandem with the diptych’s protagonist, viewers are tasked with deciphering messages despite obstructions, especially as elements appear and disappear in shifting light and with different sight lines.

Regarding world history, A Child’s Prayer refers to the coerced ignorance and exclusion of the enslaved—who were barred from reading, writing, speaking multiple languages, and participating in technological advancements including the development of photography, the telegraph, and braille. All are communication methods invented during America’s antebellum period. Notwithstanding these prohibitions, enslaved men and women insisted on inventing shared codes and modes of communication through songs, sayings, rhythms, sounds and symbols. In some cases, they co-opted widely known tales and phrases. A Child’s Prayer mirrors this by fusing nursery rhymes, constellation mythologies, and Bible stories. 

At the same time, the piece speaks to America’s current conflicts concerning the educational content that is and is not emphasized in state-funded schools. While children still memorize centuries-old European nursery rhymes, they are not always informed about the country’s troubling past and how it impacts the present. A Child’s Prayer merges harmfully hidden histories with hopeful futures. 

(2023)

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