Making the Connection: J.B. Murray and the Scripts and Forms of Africa
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This dissertation focuses on the artwork of J.B. Murray, an African American artist from Mitchell, Georgia. The goal of this dissertation is to explore J.B. Murray’s production of protective scripts and spirit figures. Murray created art works that served as the conduit for spiritual healing or protection between his God, his ancestral energies and the recipients or viewers of his work. Protection through writing is both an Islamic and indigenous African tradition. Art Historians, after seeing Murray’s work, called it masterful art. It is my contention that Murray possessed knowledge that, unbeknownst to him or his ancestors, was passed along to him by his African ancestors. This knowledge is also seen in the work of other African and African American artists in this dissertation, which shows continuity across a wider group as opposed to just one artist. Finally, a parallel is draw with African protector and healer, Serigne Bousso, from Touba, Senegal. Murray’s experience of visions and protective and healing work parallels the experience of Serigne Bousso within the last 30 years. This parallel is significant in making the connection between Murray, in Georgia, and the possible West African source for his knowledge of visions and protective signs.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- History of African and African American writing systems, signs and spirit figures -- J.B.Murray and the history of storytelling and the African 'Griot' -- African psychology and psychiatry regarding communications with the spirit world -- The art of protective writing and healing -- Mami Wata and Kongo traditions -- Review of theoretical methods for examining Murray's art -- Comparative analysis of Murray's art with the scripts and spirit figures by Murray and others, both in Africa and the United States -- Conclusion -- Appendix A: J.B. Murray timeline