Liza Jessie Peterson: Art In America

AFRO Diaries -Art In America
Posted by Alexis Caputo

African-Americans continue to diarize and seek ways to use our voices for cultural and community expression.  We intrinsically lend to the therapeutic value of art within our culture, as well as contributing to a range of art mediums as we strive to celebrate our freedom, while honoring our colorful history.  Today marks a fortnight and eight days since our celebration of Independence Day in America, as is tradition by being “emancipated” from Britain.

In as much as we diarize, examine and speak about the “black experience in America”, one heavy question lingers, that is why?  We are a body of people who know at an innermost soul level, about the physical, psychological, enslavement, rape and imprisonment of an entire race, less we forget our placement here brutally; an overwhelming population of African-Americans are inside American prisons or have had residence within them.

Are we truly mindful, of being counterpart patriots in a country we were forcibly placed in, whereby we were stripped of our original afro-centric influence in the earliest communications of griots?  We know firsthand about the politics and stench of injustice and fight not only for ourselves daily, but for others by offering them a semblance of a real soul filled freedom.  Artists strive to empower others, because we believe when we enter the lives of others, our only goal should be to encourage them in every imaginative form of expression.

Enter into the art, cultural and soul filled kitchen of the iron fisted Liza Jessie Peterson, an Actress, Writer, Poet, Playwright, Educator & Activist more poetically known as “honey on a blade” she shares, and offers no regret for the image stirred.  Her stance is equally supported through her literary work, where she finds she is most unclothed, can speak her own language and has imaginative control.  Peterson has just finished her first book non-fiction suitably titled, The Peculiar Patriot…Finding Light in a Dark Place.  The book does not offer any of the usual prison icons and stories of inmates, but instead offers a skylight into Petersons fourteen year journey teaching and performing in prisons, including a national prison tour where she performed her one-woman show The Peculiar Patriot in over thirty-five penitentiaries across the country.  Peterson has garnered a lot of interest in her work which in itself offers a glaring juxtaposition.  The dichotomy is sexy; a woman of the Diaspora speaks about freedom and ventures into prisons to assert liberties in the United States with photographic documentation that becomes an “inside eye, behind bars” and photography is a well suited visual art form for prisons.

Read the Q&A at AFRO Diaries – Black Art In America.