The Way is Made By Walking is a free popular education coloring book, available at TheWayIsMadeByWalking.com. I created this coloring book when I was in graduate school after attending a symposium on Architecture, Art and the Experience of Blackness, where I was greatly moved by the words of Hamza Walker, Education Director and Associate Curator for the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago.
In an effort to outline “blackness” or the “black experience” Walker alluded to the profound impact of the publication of the casket-side Emmett Till photos in JET magazine.
The Till incident began with the brutal beating and murder of an 11yr old boy, whose only crime was whistling at a white woman. In a surprisingly high profile trial the two men accused were almost immediately acquitted by an all white jury. The boy’s grieving mother insisted on an open casket funeral so that the world could see what had happened to her beloved son. Walker said that the media transmission of these transgressions confirmed the collective understanding shared by African Americans that this treatment was the reality of the judicial system. If they were to ever “compromise the integrity of a white woman” what happened to Till would happen to them.
Inspired by Walker’s words, I wanted to extend conversation surrounding the role that mass-produced images, often times depicting extreme brutality, play in our collective memory as a society. I produced a series of coloring book pages using historic images that have been reproduced so may times, they have lost their meaning and images that have not received nearly as much attention as they deserve. TheWayIsMadeByWalking.com showcases the coloring book pages and invites the public to submit images of their own.
Eventually I would like TheWayIsMadeByWalking.com to become an active webportal for artists/activists/educators/students/parents/HUMANS. A place that will facilitate critical conversations and the exchange of resources: ideas, images, videos, lesson plans, projects, student work, etc . A sort of ongoing People’s History, meant to be continually analyzed, expanded upon, revisited and challenged.
Please submit any ideas, suggestions, images, links, lesson plans, videos, etc. I look forward to hearing from you!
Drawing on her background in Art Education, Escobar addresses the determinative powers of potent ‘historical’ images, by conflating them with a coloring book aesthetic. All of the images she has re-represented are of iconic status and often emblematic of intensely complicated and critical events of socio-historical relevance. Through the mass distribution of socially-impactive illustrations, even if well-intentioned and of humanitarian concern, various interwoven and complex histories can be inappropriately cropped into just a few planar pictures. Our generally reinforced chronological tendencies then order these image-based concepts of historic significance, and place them in linear sequence; almost like they are dominoes. As though there is a direct and orderly progression of events, which fall one into the other with implicit seriality. As with these apparent paths of history, seemingly, laid out for us, within our personal and communal identities, there grows a determinist sensibility. Perhaps instead of limiting the understanding of a picture as being “worth a thousand words,” they can also be recognized as only particular points of reference; useful for demarcating a complex web of history, but not clear trajectories for some one, preordained future. – seeNoga