Friday, February 15, 2008

The Legacy of the Lock

I remember Lorenzo Pace when I was a high school student in Chicago. Lorenzo was teaching at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. I would sometimes see him at the Southside Community Art Center where Black artists would converge for National Conference of Artists (NCA) meetings. NCA had chapters in most major cities and was the oldest Black arts organization in the U.S. Lorenzo was always very encouraging of my art and served as a mentor to me as a young high school and college student.

Many years later when he told me he wrote a children’s book, I was delighted. In Julani and the Lock which he also illustrated, he masterfully takes the tough subject of slavery and makes it understandable to a young child. Using bold colors, simple language and child-like imagery, he based his book on his great, great grandfather, Steve Pace’s story of being captured in Africa, locked in a box and transported to America to be a slave. Amazingly, he managed to keep the lock from the box and pass it on to his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Lorenzo Pace was presented the lock after his father’s funeral. The same lock that shackled his great, great grandfather Steve Pace, was now his to pass on. I love the way that the legacy is passed on through art – both visual and literary.

An internationally accomplished artist, Lorenzo Pace was commissioned in 1993 to create a 60 foot high outdoor monument “Triumph of the Human Spirit” in New York City’s Foley Square, that paid tribute to the African slaves that were buried there. Lorenzo Pace duplicated the lock that Steve Pace passed down to his descendants and buried it in the base of the 300-ton granite sculpture.

Adjoa Burrowes

Posted in February, 2008

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