Ancestor Tones Art for Social Justice

Gracie Berry
Ancestor Tones, February 2021 
Mixed-media on cardboard, 7×7

I was commissioned by Music for Everyone to create original artwork that will be paired inside the sleeve of a record that will feature a speech by Frederick Douglass titled, The Hypocrisy of American Slavery, for their Songs for Justice project.

Thoughts on the speech: I interpret Frederick Douglass’ speech, The Hypocrisy of American Slavery, as a battle roar that ironically mirrors too many experiences faced on a global level by Black communities today. However, the biggest lie taught in our worlds history that must be unlearned is the delusion of white superiority and being afraid of the dark. These times may be many things, but certainly not dark.

About the piece: I named the piece, Ancestor Tones because I want to pay homage to melanin. All shades of Black skin are vibrant, biological reflections of nature and the universe. In fact, the very cosmology of enslaved Afrikan people and their descendants is a form of universal wealth. It’s an unspoken truth and inherent birth right, no matter how one was born into it. Ancestor Tones explores themes of Afro-futurism connecting past, present and future. I think of Frederick Douglass as an Afro-futurist because he paved the way as a community educator and revolutionary for the Black people of his time. Not to mention he was the most photographed human-being of the era. He embodied what reimagining a Black future looked like by the way he controlled the narrative of his Afro-diasporic experience of the day. And continues to inspire generations in modern times. Take Amanda Gorman for instance, the youngest Black inaugural poet in American history. She credits Frederick Douglass with teaching her how to use technology for social justice. She reminds us of how intentional he was about capturing a counter-image to the Black American stereotypes at the time and how important that message is in her own work. You’ll notice hints of red and gold, a symbol for Amanda Gorman on Inauguration Day. The glow of her young, gifted and Black spirit, shining so much bigger than her body. Center to deep, Black, shadowy cowrie shells, wool and cotton, symbols of the million and one ancestral spirits surrounding her, journeying with her as she reclaims her humanity. 

—TheeAmazingGrace ♥️

Being of Melanin is a Gift from God

Kale is not healthier than collard greens. Decolonize your plate! —Dr. Kera Nyemb-Diop

And being of melanin is a gift from God (excerpt from my poem Life Before the Boat). A beautiful Black history to you all!🔺◾️🟢

—TheeAmazingGrace

Berry Fruit in the Roots

Liberation is in the movement cause movement affects everything. Played outside today! Berry fruit in the Roots. Through achy body moved to give thanks with my whole body, my whole spirit. Moved to protect my peace. Moved because it is a privilege.

To all our ancestors that came before to liberate their own experiences, the ones that sacrificed to liberate mine. Berry fruit playing outside in the Roots. Through achy body I moved to give thanks with my whole body and spirit to those ancestors I know by name and those I don’t. Thank you. From the depths. Ase—O

—TheeAmazingGrace 🤍🤍🤍

🎶 Yu Nd I by M.I.Blue &
How Glad Iam by Melanie Charles

Root play outside, 2021.

afrikanface #ancestorsspeak #fruitintheroots #girlrillavintage #girlrillavintagethreads #igtv #martinlutherkingjrday #protectyourpeace #smudgetalk #TheeAmazingGrace #westafrikanwoman

Fruit in the Roots

Mixed media cover art by Gracie Berry. Digital art by Darice Pollard. Circa 2020.

Always managed to write my life, but never imagined I could illustrate it too lol! If 2020 taught us anything, it is resilience in it’s most unbridled form. Romanticized the idea of writing several styles of books for the last 20-yrs, but never did. Collaborating as illustrator on Zetta’s newest novella, showed me that I can do it too. I’m no longer willing to put my dreams on hold just because I don’t know how or where to start. This project taught me to start somewhere. Thank you so much for this opportunity @zettaelliott! Trusting it will reach all those that need it’s fruit.

—TheeAmazingGrace 🧡

Original. Mixed media cover art by Gracie Berry. Digital art by Darice Pollard. Circa 2020.
Original. Interior mixed media collage by Gracie Berry.

afrikanface #afrikanheritage #ancestorsspeak #blackhistoryisworldhistory #fruitsintheroots #girlrillavintage #mixedmediaillustration #rosettapress #rootsrundeep #zettaelliott

Bundle Up Black Joy!

Bundle up, BLACK JOY and grand Winter Solstice to you! Never forget that our blood memory is our superpower. Our very inception is supernatural and worthy to be praised. One love. ❄️❄️❄️

afrikanface #africandna #ancestralhealing #blackjoy #blacklove #breakgenerationalcurses #girlrillavintage #perspective #renegotiatethenarrative #saturnjupiterconjunction #theeamazinggrace #wintersolstice

Healing is the greatest come up

Healing ourself is the greatest come up. @lii.zka captured me back in March, the month of my birth and the same month the world paused. Giving thanks for countless opportunities to gain and grieve. Becoming someone longer lasting is requiring me to return to my source, to heal and rebirth my self over and over. To lean on the patience of ancestors even when it feels like I’m making no strides at all.

Me captured by Elizabeth Levkovich March 2020.
Me captured by Elizabeth Levkovich March 2020.
Me captured by Elizabeth Levkovich March 2020.
Me captured by Elizabeth Levkovich March 2020.
Me captured by Elizabeth Levkovich March 2020.

—TheeAmazingGrace ♥️

afrikanface #ancestralhealing #evolving #girlrillavintage #griefandloss #healingfrominsideout #hibernation #marsretrograde #reenergize #shadowkeepersandroothealers #smudgetalk #thatslove #theeamazinggrace #westafrikan

Afrobeat


You cannot sing Afrikan music in proper English. —Fela Kuti, pioneer of Afrobeat ✌🏾🤎

Afrobeat ink

🎨 @mike.muldowney 🙏🏾♥️

afrikanface #afrobeat #afrikaunite #ancestorsspeak #blackisbeautiful #blackhistoryisworldhistory #felakuti #girlrillavintage #soulmusic #ripancestors #tonyallen #westafrika

Watermelon LIVE

I wrote this after George Floyd was taken from here. All his motherly ancestors channeled me to write. All the mothers conjured up through. Cause even in death he called on his mother. The power in wailing her name was battle cry that had to be answered by every motherly energy that ever was. Thank God for his breath, his last words stained into the fabric of the universe. He didn’t give those cowards the power they were seeking. And that’s why I always say we don’t have to acquiesce, even in death. Watermelon is a poem to my people for my people. Break dem gotdamn curses. And stay in the struggle.

Ase—O 🖤🍉

—TheeAmazingGrace ♥️

🙏🏾 @pavaagallery crew
🎥 @marioncococoleman
🎶 @gerrimccrittycreations @teetosmusic

afrikanface #ancestorsspeak #blackpoems #blacklivesmatter #blackpeopleareancient #eternallove #girlrillavintage #griot #healblack #lancasteramtrak #shadowkeepersandroothealers #shadowkeepersandroothealerstheoriginalogs #smudgetalk #ripgeorgefloyd #theeamazinggrace #truthspeaker #watermelon #watermelonRedBlackandGreen #watermelonworthlesswithouttheblackseeds #watermelonpoem #westafrican

Artist Talk At Lancaster’s Amtrak Station Was A Hit!

I genuinely had a beautiful time exchanging with community about my exhibit Shadowkeepers & Roothealers the Original OG’s (Orisha Gods). Special love to all the ancestors that showed up and out! I’m a bird, still flying high. Ase-O 🤍🤍🤍

—Theeamazinggrace ♥️

Buy Back Black Debt Via Sonya Renee Taylor

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#BuyBackBlackDebt is a project of interracial spiritual and economic relationship building. The goal is not simply to pay off the random debt of Black folks but to re-establish the possibility of human connections and relationship through disrupting active institutions of white supremacist delusion in Black lives. This project is a local, family and community organized process that benefits the lives of Black folks in your proximity.

***KEY NOTE: THIS PROJECT IS NOT A GIFT! You are not gifting or donating or any other language steeped in white saviorism. You are seeking a relationship in which you would like to clear up some of YOUR spiritual debt by doing your part to mitigate the harm your people have done to Black people via institutions of white supremacist delusion. And that you desire to be in an authentic reparative relationship.***

I totally signed up to have my student loan debt cleared. That seems to be the one thing holding me back from being a homeowner. As a black woman, having grown up in abject poverty and broken circumstances, I never got to experience what stability looks like in a home environment. I never got to experience generational wealth or anything close to it. Having my debt cleared would give me a fighting chance, an opportunity to have success I never experienced before, and  the ability to pass down some form of economical wealth to my family.

—TheeAmazingGrace ♥️🙏🏾♥️

#afrikanface #blacklivesmatter #buybackblackdebt #calltowhitewealth #girlrillavintage #sonyareneetaylor  #thisisnotadonation #thisisnotagift #thisworkisrelational