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Strange Fruit

Discussion in 'vBench (Works in Progress)' started by btavis, Jan 15, 2006.

  1. btavis Active Member

    Country:
    United-States
    I have already started my next project and I am quite a ways into. However, I will only tease you with what it is about with the following MP3 file from the greatest blues/soul singer that ever lived - Billie Holiday.

    http://us.f1.yahoofs.com/bc/34893657/bc/Mu...ftnnyDBw.kigTYr

    It will be a controversial subject that follows in the footsteps of Zoot Suit Riots and deals with one of the more tragic sides of American history but one that deserves a constant reminder lest it happen again. This will be the second installment in my non-military "Americana Series," which will consist of a number of incidents from my country's past that I feel are very compelling and important to us all.
  2. PJ Deluhery Active Member

    Country:
    United-States
    I know the song and I know the subject, Bob. This will be another of your fascinating glimpses into the past, I'm sure. Good luck and I hope you'll let us look over your shoulder as you work your magic.

    PS The Nina Simone version of the song is also pretty good.
  3. quang Active Member

    Country:
    Belgium
    (y) (y) (y)

    I agree with Pat. Check out Nina Simone's haunting rendition of the song.

    Q.
  4. btavis Active Member

    Country:
    United-States
    I will check out the Simone version. INcidentally, here are the entire lyrics to the song:

    Southern trees bear strange fruit,
    Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
    Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
    Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

    Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
    The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
    Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
    Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

    Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
    For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
    For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
    Here is a strange and bitter cry.

    One problem, poplar trees are NOT good hanging trees so I changed it to an oak tree. Poetic license on the part of the songwriter I am sure but I changed it to a more accurate oak tree.

    Does anyone know where the term "lynching" came from? I know but I was just curious if anyone else knew.
  5. btavis Active Member

    Country:
    United-States
  6. btavis Active Member

    Country:
    United-States
    I will also tell you that this diorama will take place in the 1920's at the height of the KKK and while I do not specify where the incident takes place the truth of the matter is that there were over a thousand lynchings in the 1920's and it could have happened anywhere, and did. I can also tell you that these were public incidents that were done in broad daylight contrary to the "knightrider" mythology and people turned out for them as if they were carnivals. My approach is to treat this subject with as much sensitive emotion as possible while trying to avoid any cliches. Research has helped a great deal as always.
  7. quang Active Member

    Country:
    Belgium
    If my memory serves me well, the term 'lynching' takes its origin from a judge (?) named Lynch who was known for his rather expeditive way of giving justice.

    Bob, this is a grim but nevertheless very courageous project. (y)

    Good night, and good luck.

    Quang
  8. yeo_64 Active Member

    Country:
    Singapore
    I'll be looking forward to your "treatment" of the subject matter too,Bob. Cheers !
    Kenneth.
  9. Tarok Active Member

    Country:
    Australia
    Hi Bob,

    I think this is a great way to show your counry's history - good or bad.... someday I hope to follow in your foot steps and re-create some of my country's dark history in scale...

    Rudi :)
  10. Bill Mayo New Member

    Looking forward to this dio...and yes, I too am familiar with the song.

    As a Southerner born and bred, I sometimes wince at the (perhaps) undue negative attention trained on our part of the country. But the sad history of the lynchings and 'Jim Crow' need to be examined, certainly.

    Unfortunately, on the other hand, modern day tragedies like Rwanda 1994 barely blip the pop culture radar screen.
  11. btavis Active Member

    Country:
    United-States
    I never know when I do these types of things what the reaction will be. To me, history is not to be cherry picked and one must accept what happened regardless of whether currently politically correct or not. It is not my intention in any way to over exaggerate or glorify anything but simply to portray what happened and let the viewer come to terms with the subject by themselves. Like I said, research has given me a very clear factual image and while it does not portray any particular incident it is true to what happened and really says everything about wherever this type of thing may have happened. In that sense it is symbolic which serves a beneficial purpose as well. Did I ever tell you that I believe it is imperative that artists have a social responsibility?

    I already have fourteen figures sculpted and the base laid out. There will be twenty plus figures altogether and several vehicles and this project will take me several months as usual to complete.

    I plan on having the piece available by the time of the Tulsa show in June. I am not going to show detailed SBS pictures as I have not broken stride with the development to take a lot of pictures. :( I will however take a picture or two at various key points in development so y'all can see a glimpse of what it will look like. I should have something to see by next weekend. I will tell you this, it is progressing better than I had anticipated ;)
  12. captnenglish Well-Known Member

    Country:
    United-States
    I too know the song and subject matter (having spent much of my academic career studying the period) and was thinking of doing a similar project, I can already tell, this one will be my favorite of your pieces.
  13. garyjd Well-Known Member

    Country:
    United-States
    Bob, A dark chapter in our nation's history no doubt but one that needs to be told. I believe in a balanced telling of history, exploring the negative as well as the positive.~Gary
  14. btavis Active Member

    Country:
    United-States
    Just to keep y'all up to date.

    This is a rough layout of the pieces to this diorama in various stages of completion. The two vehicles are diecast 1920's cars that have not been reworked yet. There will be some additional figures in the background around the cars - spectators as it were. I used the Plus Model oak leaves painted with acrylics.

    [IMG]

    [IMG]

    [IMG]

    [IMG]

    [IMG]
  15. garyjd Well-Known Member

    Country:
    United-States
    Bob, That is shaping up to be a thought provoking piece. I think this is your best work to date. You've conveyed the period quite well, based on the photos I've seen.~Gary
  16. megroot A Fixture

    Country:
    Netherlands
    Bob,

    This one is a great one. But i must admit that i don't like the yellow colour of that car.
    It attracks my eye away from the center of the scene.
    So, i think he is not finished.
    Further, a great reminder to the awfull period in the history of America.

    Marc
  17. btavis Active Member

    Country:
    United-States
    Marc,

    I know at this point it is hard to tell what is finished and what isn't but that yellow is just the color that the diecast car came with. I am going to remove that section and replace with wood as the car really was made. I just put the cars in there temporarily to give a sense of the layout. If you remember in Zoot Suits I used a diecast car for the taxi and when they are reworked they can look very convincing. Right now they look like toys.

    As I remarked earlier in the thread I am not taking alot of SBS pictures but I did think the piece was advanced enough at this point to give a sense of how it was shaping up notwithstanding the fact there is still a ways to go with sculpting and painting.

    What I would really like to know is whether or not I have rendered the scene with enough sensitivity to the subject. Despite the fact that the Klansmen robes are cliches I tried to avoid stereotyping anything but rather to portray what I felt was the true hatred and anguish these types of events created. As far as composition is concerned the reds of the leaves and red clay ground are to symbolize the line in the song that goes:

    "Blood at the leaves and blood at the root."
  18. Dan Morton A Fixture

    Country:
    United-States
    Marvelous stuff, Bob. Well-conceived, great sculpting as usual. The clothing and gear look perfect for the period.

    Tough to look at and thought-provoking. I got a lump in my throat looking at the lynched man. What a strange country (world) we live in, eh? And even today it goes on. I'm thinking of the continuing genocide in Darfur.

    All the best,
    Dan
  19. btavis Active Member

    Country:
    United-States
    Also, if you notice the victim hanging from the tree is missing his left foot which broke off. I guess the wire I used to create the armature did not go far enough into the foot and the Apoxie broke at the ankle. I will obviously need to repair it so he is not quite as gruesome as it appears now.

    Just as an aside, I had been looking at paintings by Thomas Hart Benton and I think in a subtle way they influenced me for this piece. Here are some examples of Benton's work:

    [IMG]

    [IMG]

    [IMG]

    [IMG]
  20. Major_Goose Well-Known Member

    Country:
    Greece
    Really nice piece Bob. Youhave inspiration and the skill tomake it 3d. Nice work , really nice

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