The Art of Now
The Dixon pulls out all the stops for this one-of-a-kind show.
(page 7 of 8)
This Memphis native has too much to say to contain it all in one art form. So she often blends painting and writing, starting with a title and seeing where it leads her.
Recalling how she always loved art but was compelled to write, Lurlynn Franklin says, “I felt conflicted but I knew I could be good at both. I am a storyteller, a sassy, mouthy woman, very philosophical and opinionated.” Much of that was stifled as a child by her “fear and circumstances.” But there it was, ready to explode, she adds, “so I needed a word-loaded outlet. I start every piece with the thought of what collection it will fit into, and what I want to say visually, politically, about society.”
Her talent for art was cultivated by middle- and high-school art teachers, especially the esteemed George Hunt, whose work is also in “Present Tense.” He singled out Franklin to enroll in his advanced art classes at Carver High and later recruited her for a city-sponsored program to provide summer jobs for teenagers in conjunction with the Memphis Black Arts Alliance. She worked on a team that painted murals that were “thematically African-American, historically about Memphis, and large-scaled,” Franklin recalls. “I was the only female on that crew. I am grateful to Mr. Hunt to have been given such an out-of-the-ordinary paying artistic experience at such a young age.”
A teacher herself at Lincoln Elementary, Franklin — who holds an MFA in painting from Memphis College of Art — knows kids are “natural creators” and those from rough backgrounds have the potential to be super-creators. “They haven’t been totally tainted yet and will ‘get it’ if you [connect] on their level and then spiral out from their point of reference.”
Of her own works, which sometimes incorporate fabric or wallpaper, she takes special pride in “Fabled Truths,” a collection (shown below) of 40 self-portraits and 30 poems, and “Quick Chick Fixe$.” Although the shows looked finished, she says, “They were really works in progress, and were jumping-off points of the parallel direction I want my writing and art to take.”
As for the two media working together, she concludes, “My writing isn’t there to clarify my images and my art isn’t there to illustrate what I have to say. They just complement . . . to achieve the purposes of my content.”