I’ve been on the hunt for a first edition copy (really any edition but the 1st would be SWEET) of Roy DeCarava and Langston Hughes’ book The Sweet Flypaper of Life for some time now. Yes, I can spend over $100 buying a copy online that I haven’t seen from someone that I don’t really know exists but I refuse. I’ll find it, the same way that I found my first edition copy of Revolutionary Suicide by Huey P. Newton after an almost 10 year hunt, on a random street corner in Brooklyn, on the table of a book vendor, wrapped in two ziploc plastic bags…this I am sure of. Besides me lusting after this book I’ve been ferociously attracted to the work of Roy DeCarava and it wasn’t until I attended a lecture about his life and photography at The Schomburg Center in Harlem (who by the way puts on FASCINATING lectures and events, most of them free, all year round) that I realized how closely some of my work resembles his. There’s something about his creative style that I seem to relate to and it’s as if we had the same eye for certain shots. As his wife, Sherry DeCarava, shared images with the over 400 attendees I easily spotted images that looked similar to mine.
Roy DeCarava Hallway
Comparing them further I do believe that Roy DeCarava is my current “spirit photographer”. As I’m learning more about his professional and personal life, I’m connecting the dots on his views about art, life and how it relates to society.
He made ‘ordinary” people extraordinary through his photographs. Yes, he was a Harlem based photographer but he was an artist and activist simply by not being afraid to show the world his world, creatively. Much of his world just so happened to be Black residents in Harlem, but as his wife put it, he was a humanist. While sharing stories of the city, men, women and families he helped preserve a history that today’s generation will never learn about in their history books but from his photographs.
This act in itself is revolutionary.
THIS made my day. I emphasize to people that films and photography tell stories that can surpass memory and last a lifetime (if preserved properly) and this is a great example. Although Mrs. Alice Barker is as sharp as a tack for 102 years old, these videos will live on well after her memory or life expires and can inspire generations to come. I aspire to capture images that someone can one day present somewhere that they have never been shown, to tell a story of a time that may or may not have been forgotten…or at least make someone smile.
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