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Root Work Journal - Navigating the Ocean - Volume 1, Issue 2

True Vine

Steve Prince




Steve A. Prince is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, and he currently resides in Williamsburg, Virginia. He is the Director of Engagement and Distinguished Artist in Residence at the Muscarelle Museum at William and Mary. Prince received his MFA from Xavier University of Louisiana and his MFA in Printmaking and Sculpture from Michigan State University. Prince is a mixed media artist, master print maker, lecturer, educator, and art evangelist. He has taught middle school, high school, community college, 4-year public and 4-year private, and has conducted workshops internationally in various media. Prince is an award winning artist; the 2010 Teacher of the Year for the City of Hampton, a 2020 recipient of a VMFA (Virginia Museum of Fine Arts) Grant, and the 2020 Grand Prize Visual Art Winner of the Engage Art Competition. Prince has shown his art internationally in various solo, group, and juried exhibitions. Prince's work is dedicated to speaking soberly about the human experience and the fight for equality. 

The image True Vine balances the natural and the supernatural in that Vine alludes to an iconic street in Knoxville, Tennessee that was the center of the African American community. Vine Street was the mecca for Black culture; music, food, commerce, spirituality, and style. But vine also represents the spiritual landscape that operatively functioned as a balm of protection that enabled the Black community to retain the rituals and principles from Africa and encode them in every facet of there lives in the face of a stultifying system that tried to eradicate that spirit. True Vine reveals a couple dancing atop the waters of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, bodies moving in a conceptual call and response, the woman surges forward and the man arches back receiving her her energy like the tide coming to the shore. The man wields a white handkerchief which is symbolic of the Holy Spirit and the woman's dress is emblazoned with the Adnikrahene symbol of charisma, leadership and authority. The Blues group Tennessee Chocolate Drops belts out the song "Vine Street Rag" atop the record player while the DJ scratches and remixes the tunes from the pain of the past and gives the world Hip Hop. The hardwood Poors remind us of the hull of the mother-ship that carried our ancestors, but the spirit was able to rise up in spite of the limitations of space and access. Off to the side in the composition we continue to move, to dance, to resist, to create, to profess, to exclaim, to preach, to exult, and to love. Our bodies are the protest, the undeniable fact that we are still here is a testament to our power and brilliance. Each Sgure is connected, like a vine to its branches.


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