On Saturday, July 14, St. Petersburg was exposed to Gulfport artist Cora Marshall’s personal dive into ancestry and her roots at the at the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum.
Marshall’s three-series-paining piece, Roots & Branches & Blooms: An Exploration of Family Ancestry, History, and Memories, deeply explores her relationship with the past and her African American heritage. Marshall’s pieces are categorized in three different exhibits: In and Out of Time, Of Blood and Bones and Toiling Upward.
“Often, my art is centered in spirituality and I create work that seeks out the connections to and lessons from my African and Native American familia past,” Marshall writes in her artist statement.
Marshall used photos she found of her distant maternal family through online genealogy research.
“She found these pictures, and she decided to paint them,” said Lynnette Hardy, an administrative assistant at the Carter Woodson Museum. “[Marshall’s family] were not people who worked in the fields; they were fishmongers, coal miners, they owned a grocery store.”
Throughout her exhibit Marshall uses mixed media, poured paint and old family photographs. Her use of texture transports the viewer into the world of her ancestors. Her work throughout the three-series piece shows what life was like for a tight-knit African American family.
“She was trying to convey the resemblance they have,” Hardy said. “You see the similarities?”
The Carter Woodson Museum, formerly the Jordan Park Community Center, was transformed in 2006. Since, the museum has held many different forms of African American art, including raps and dances.
“We are not the traditional museum,” said Hardy. “This is where we as African Americans held our parties because we could not go to other places.”
While the opening reception was for Second Saturday Art Walk in St. Petersburg, Marshall’s work will be on display at the Carter Woodson Museum until September 30.
Marshall retired to Gulfport five years ago and continues to share her art locally and worldwide.
The Carter Woodson Museum is open Tuesday to Friday, 12 to 5 p.m. For more information, call 727-323-1104