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MFA Thesis Exhibition: A Fall From Grace

Artist Statement

A Fall From Grace Soundtrack

A Fall From Grace” is a multi-layered story told through the voices of now elderly women that were a part of a Charismatic Movement known as the “Prayer Band”. This movement took place during the early 1970's through the early 2000's. It was comprised of single black women and children who followed in the footsteps of a self-governed spiritual leader. Forming her own ministry and controlling the lives of all participants in any way possible, the leader manipulated them into believing that leaving the group would bring harm to their children. This movement evolved from a traditional Christian based organization, The First Church of God in Christ. This started as a simple Saturday noonday prayer for members to meet and pray together, but soon after the woman leading the noonday prayer started to quickly reshape and form her own ministry. The Church began to reject her teachings because it went against their doctrine and this led to the beginning and Rise of “The Prayer Band.” Control, fear, punishment, isolation, and ridicule also kept them from leaving the group. They were not allowed to make any decisions without the consent of the leader, or they would be severely reprimanded in front of other members. Convincing both the participants and herself that she was the intermediary between God on behalf of all the women in the group. She considered herself the voice of God, referring to herself as “Black Jesus in the Flesh” and “The Queen of the South.” Isolated from the outside world, all non- Prayer Band relationships were destroyed. As “the way, the truth, and the light” her tyranny maintained the final say. This group of women lived a very fearful life for over two decades before they were able to gain the strength and courage to move away and start a new life. This series gives a voice to the women that were silenced through mental, physical and emotional abuse and their transition that led them to where they are today. This series is a multimedia project that includes, photography, paintings, sculptures, and stained-glass pieces. This project is a complex layering of stories, that illustrates the lives of the remaining women who are willing to tell their stories and their long recovery back to their faith. Belief and Faith are powerful and in misguiding hands, it can take you from the highest mountain to the lowest valley. A tale of misplaced trust, a fall from grace, and a prayer of hope tell the story of how the “Prayer Band” members persevered to give their families a new start. These women have continued their strong walk of faith and believe when you take your eyes off of God, you lose focus and fall from grace.


Church Mothers

Church Mother includes plaster molds of my Grandmother and four aunt’s faces. These sculptures are symbolic of their lives and journey along the way. Each statue is about their height in real life. I wanted these sculptures to be their height so they could look at themselves and reflect on their faith journey and also how far they have come. Their eyes are closed to show them in a meditative state and them praying to God. Each individual is wearing their “Sunday’s Best” hat that best describes their personality.
The bronze represents a sense of calmness and sincerity. I wanted the statues to resemble that of a religious icon or diety. The pewter green shows times and them being seasoned saints. Each book represents their story from them as a small child, Prayer Band, faith journey, and where they are now. The books are aged and warped because no one’s story is perfect, and everyone goes through trials and tribulations. On each statue, the books are divided into sections. Each section rotates as a reminder life can take you in many directions.

Mother Pace

Mother Pace is the Matriarch of the family and the oldest of the sisters. She lived in D.C. and moved to New York City to be with her sisters. Mother Pace was a snazzy dresser and shopped only at the high-end stores in Manhattan. Everything about her said she liked to be fashionable with clothing and her home decorating. She retired from hotel management and is currently one of the Mothers’ of her Church. She believes that “If you give God all of you, then you will receive all that God has for you.” Her wisdom and life experience have truly been an inspiration for the younger generations.

Mother Adejumobie

Mother Adejumobie moved to New York City and paved the way for her sisters to follow. All the sisters were very close, and they all worked together to accommodate each other. Mother Adejunmobie was very affluent and very well known in her community. She often traveled with her husband and family and was often referred to as the Black Brady Bunch. She also worked in the medical field as a nurse because helping people was her calling. She is currently a Mother of the Church, speaks at women conferences, and believes that everything she went through made her relationship with God unbreakable.

Mother Dukes

Mother Dukes has always been the most serious one of the sisters. She was often mistaken for being older because she was very mature. Her journey and walk of faith continue to guide her footsteps. She has always been a dedicated and firm believer in the Gospel. She also knew that God had called her to be a Solider in the Army of the Lord. Mother Dukes is retired from nursing, but she has always had a passion for helping the sick and shut-in. Mother Dukes has a degree in Theology and speaks at women conferences at her church. She says she will continue on this journey with all those that believe in his holy name.

Mother Craig

Mother Craig grew up in a small town in South Carolina and was eager to come to New York City and join her other sisters. They all lived under one roof and helped to care for each other. She has always had a passion for cooking, and her family says her fried chicken is the “best in the Carolinas.” She had a special gift that reached and comforted her patients. She has since retired from both the medical field and child care. Mother Craig truly believes that a family that prays together stays together. She continues to spread the Gospel wherever she goes and welcomes friends and family to always join in with her in a word of prayer.