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Thursday, April 17, 2014 12:27 PM

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Poetry and art spark dialogue at Brentwood gallery


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Photo by Wanda Jackson. “Staging and backdrop for the exhibit is reminiscent of the ‘juke joint’ scene from The Color Purple,” PGAAMCC collections assistant Tre Sand said during the exhibit’s guided tour.

Photo by Wanda Jackson. “Staging and backdrop for the exhibit is reminiscent of the ‘juke joint’ scene from The Color Purple,” PGAAMCC collections assistant Tre Sand said during the exhibit’s guided tour.

Published on: Wednesday, January 23, 2013

By Wanda Jackson

Longtime Prince George’s County artist Ulysses S. Marshall’s latest series of collage and mixed media works, which he refers to as “paper dolls,” explore aspects of southern black life.

Coming from a very humble family, there was little money for children’s toys. So, Marshall created cardboard and magazine cutouts of people and images, sometimes reassembling their parts to create his own unique playmates.

Continuing that signature as an adult, Marshall’s contemporary works easily engage viewers with themes like “limited freedom, spiritualism and Africanisms in Black American Culture.”

When area poets were asked to create their own poetry in response to Marshall’s works, each readily signed up for the task. Each poet was given a specific work and asked to steer clear of titling their poems so viewers would not be predisposed to outside influences about the artist’s work.

Marshall’s “visual works” and the poet’s “spoken words” are on display in the interactive exhibit, “Paper Dolls — Poetic Responses to the Artwork of Ulysses S. Marshall” at Gallery 110 in the Gateway Arts Center through April 13.

The exhibition is a partnership between the Prince George’s African American Museum and the American Poetry Museum. The exhibition was curated by Fred Joiner, curator of the American Poetry Museum, and Jon West-Bey, curator of the PGAAMCC.

Marshall has been an artist and arts educator for more than 30 years. He works primarily in collage and mixed media, and his paintings have been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including the Corcoran Gallery of Art, National Vietnam Veterans Museum, John Heinz History Museum, Williams College and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum.

Marshall earned his bachelor’s and Master of Fine Arts degree from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, and he is the recipient of the Distinguished Whitney Independent Study Fellowship in New York, the Phillip Morris Fellowship and several Maryland State Art Council Individual Artist Awards.

The exhibition features poetry by five of the county’s most dynamic poets and spoken-word artists: Joy “Sistah Joy” Matthews Alford, Angela Abadir, Hoke Glover, Patrick Washington and Derrick Weston Brown.

The poets are spearheading a series of community programs including poetry readings, lectures, poetry slams, and youth and family cultural education workshops throughout the exhibition. Select workshops target children ages 3-5 with parent participation.

Visitors to the exhibition are encouraged to create poetry in response to the artwork.

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