Otta Benga, Formerly Enslaved
The Epitome of a Nubian Knight

Otta Benga, Formerly Enslaved<br>The Epitome of a Nubian Knight

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"Whenever I use BLACK it relates to some history of Africans in that particular place. It’s the idea of the color BLACK as a metaphor, or as a representation of African-Americans. It’s the notion of BLACK- BLACKNESS - and all its other meanings in relation to the history of race..."

- Fred Wilson

"Most of my fortitude to continue doing the work comes from the moral outrage I feel about the injustices that Black people endure disproportionately daily."

- N. Abdul-Wakil

"In the end, what matters is not skin shade but pan-African consciousness. Loving your complexion, your nose, lips, hair length and texture, no matter what the politics or trends decide, and simply be. That's the problem with us (African folks). We're still learning how to love ourselves. So used to glorifying others and putting others first..."

- Dredlocks Tree

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The REEL Black Same Gender Loving Filmography Resource (A 24/7 ONLINE FILM DATABASE)
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LAST UPDATE: Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Friday, December 4, 2009

FRED WILSON, Conceptual Artist, Part I

This week I had a tremendous amount of pressure on me.

I work at Domingo Gonzalez Associates (DGA) in lower Manhattan which is an architectural lighting design firm. I am a senior drafter/junior lighting designer and my capacity there is as a CADD (Computer-Aided Drafting and Design) consultant.

I have been working on the $17 billion dollar 2nd Avenue Subway Line Project (and multi-billion dollar East Side Access Project) for sometime now, and this was the last push to get the 100% final design drawings out the door to New York City Transit (NYCT), the client. The train line would be called the "T" train. Kinda strange for native New Yorkers to have a new "T" train.

As a backdrop, the Second Avenue Subway will relieve pressure on the overcrowded Lexington Avenue line (#4 , 5 and 6 trains - or the "green lines" for those not familiar with New York City, LOL! ) and improve access to Lower Manhattan. The full length will run from 125th Street (Harlem) and Second Avenue to Hanover Square in Lower Manhattan. Phase I, which will construct the 96th, 86th, and 72nd Street Stations and tie into the existing system at a new station at 63rd Street, is now underway.

So, the pressure was huge because the project is electronically drawn using the MicroStation application software which is a CADD program on the Windows operating system platform. I'm the only one who really knows how to use this program (though I've done some training with my co-workers here and there) and so the bulk of work falls on me.

So, I happen to get up from my computer workstation (taking a small break to revitalize) and walked into the conference room which was vacant at the time, and I saw all these INCREDIBLE 3D conceptual drawings on the walls of a project I was unfamiliar with. So I got closer and the main subject was a sculptured statue figure in which our firm was hired to properly light in this new public landmark space. The statue person looked African-American(!!!!!) to me which caught me by surprise as the totality of statues around the United States aren't of African descent for the most part.

So, now I'm really interested in this project my firm has taken on. And I wished this was something I could work on, but most of the firm projects including this one are electronically done in AutoCAD (another popular CADD program) to which I'm not proficient, and personally I don't like as a CADD program. So, I looked at the title-block (border) information and saw that this project is a public landmark space in Indianapolis and the person associated with it is Fred Wilson. Immediately, I thought to myself, who is Fred Wilson?

On the conference table was a very small scale and mini version of the sculptured statue from the drawings (appeared to by sculpted from concrete or some sculpting material, but honestly I'm not sure at all) which looked to weigh about 100 pounds, I guess. And what we do at the office sometimes is use a small scale of the actual subject and do test lighting phase options to see what the effect of the light will be with varying light fixtures projecting their light in strategic locations with the lights in the office on and off.

So after looking at the drawings and the AWESOME sculpture, I went back to my desk and immediately googled Fred Wilson and got a few hits and saw at a quick glance that he was an African-American artist of some kind. I composed an email and sent the link to myself as a reminder to do more research later. I mentioned the project to my boss, Domingo, and the senior partner and told them the project looked totally qool.

The next day I see the conference room being used, and it turns out that Fred Wilson is in the office discussing the project with my boss and the lighting designers involved with the project. While working, Domingo comes over to me after the formal meeting was finished and then introduced me to Fred Wilson. We all talked for about 10 minutes and I kept calling him "sir". I was certainly in awe of him which is why I was calling him "sir" because even though I didn't get a chance to do my research on him and knew nothing about him at all except that he was some kind of artist, it was a real pleasure to meet someone of African descent doing his thing and in the office conducting business to get his project to reality.

Though I do admit that standing there I was somewhat disconnected and had a dichotomy toward Fred Wilson because his visit to the office was so unexpected to me and because as aforementioned I didn't know who he was as an artist. In other words it would have been a qooler and more meaningful engagement for me had I known who he was beforehand and then meeting him. But hey, that's the hand I was dealt. And these things do inspire more deliberate domino effect pro-actions...

For example, I LOVED the film Devil In A Blue Dress (1995) starring Denzel Washington and Don Cheadle (one of my top favorite films of all-time) when I saw it theatrically. I had no idea that it was based upon the book by Walter Mosley, much less who Walter Mosley was as an author. So the movie ultimately inspired me to go out to the Barnes & Noble branch on 66th Street & Broadway to buy and read most of Mosley's Easy Rawlins mystery books.

So... saw the movie first then read the books afterward... met Fred Wilson first then did the research afterward.

Anyway, my boss told me that Fred Wilson is just this qool mellow person and someone you definitely wanted to get to know better as a person. The office meeting was productive and the project is moving ahead.

So, here we are in the present as I type this blog and did some research on Fred Wilson. See my blog entry FRED WILSON, Conceptual Artist, Part II...

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