Making the connection: J.B. Murray and the scripts and forms of Africa
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Many African and African America artists have chosen to represent Nsibidi and other African and Afro-Caribbean syllabaries in their works of art. However, some artists also produces art and script given to them "by God" with the intent of carrying out God's will and helping others? J.B. Murray believed this to be his situation. Through a thorough investigation of the history of the scripts and forms of Africa and the writing systems that developed in the Americas from those African scripts, the diasporic path that African traditions took in the Americas, will be explored. One of the challenges of this research has been the different perceptions expressed by Western and non-Western viewpoints. Through an analysis of several critical viewpoints, including sociological, anthropological, and art historical, these Western and non-Western viewpoints are critiqued in connection with the continuation of African traditions throughout the diaspora. Another area examined is the difference between knowing and choosing to use the scripts and forms of Africa to express a connection with that culture, such as the artists Betye Saar and Victor Ekpuk, and simply producing art, folkart, or script, and not knowing there is any connection between their work and the work of others, whether in other countries or their own. J.B. Murray is a wonderful artist to examine, due to the fact that he had no preconceived notions of African art, traditions, or customs. He was illiterate and therefore had no opportunity to read and gain knowledge of other cultures. Until he had produced his script and forms for a few years and gained notoriety with exposure to art institutions in the United States, he had no idea the messages going to his recipients through him, from God, had any connection to any other cultures.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- History of African script and spirit forms and their migration to the New World -- Analysis of Murray's artistry and its reception -- Comparison of the use of scripts and forms by Murray and other artists -- Conclusions -- Illustrations