“Pray to the spirit of Barbara for strength during adversity”

I always knew that The Chronicles Of Brixton was going to be a fascinating project. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to do it- I’m pretty nosey. I had no idea however, the paths it would lead me down and the things it would introduce me to. Yesterday I received two such fascinating submissions. They were from the same household, but couldn’t have been further apart in their sentiment…

1- Barbara Jordan by Jeremiah Drake


“If my house was on fire, I’d save this portrait of Barbara Jordan. As a disabled, black lesbian it was pretty impressive and really important for her to have won a seat in the Texas Senate in 1966. The artist who made it is a former US paratrooper and trained opera singer who is a longtime social activist called Jeremiah Drake (some background here)  and now runs the Theatre of the Oppressed in Harlem. 

I bought it for $5 one Sunday morning on a walk through downtown New York when I was living there in the summer of 2000. I bought two pictures off him. This one, and another one of Aretha Franklin which was $15. He wouldn’t take more money for them. We had a long chat, he gave me his card, and I’ve remembered who he was ever since.”

I love this submission. I’d never heard of Barbara Jordan before, so was pretty grateful to have been introduced to such an important player in the American civil rights story. This submission also opened me up to the work of the artist, Jeremiah Drake. Jeremiah, a Harlem resident, supports women who’ve suffered abuse to access facial cosmetic surgery to help heal the scars left from violent attacks.

billie holiday jeremiah drake slashing african american icons

Jeremiah Drake’s Billie Holiday from his series ‘Slashing the African American Icons’ Read about the powerful story behind this image here 

Here’s what happened to Drake’s artwork when I turned it into a building block for The Chronicles of Brixton…


I love the shapes Barbara’s foil crown makes. It’s hard with square images to create the kaleidoscopic wheels I like to use, so do forgive me if I exercise a bit of creative license on your image!

I’ll save the other submission for tomorrow. Equally as fascinating (perhaps) Nowhere near as deep…


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