Dec 27, 2021
Winfred Rembert was one of America’s great contemporary artists. Originally from Cuthbert, Georgia, Rembert painted on carved and tooled leather where he chronicled black life during the Jim Crow terror regime through the lens of his own personal experiences.
Rembert’s artwork and life story are a testament to the enduring spirit of black Americans and his attempt to live a good life even in the face of much struggle and tragedy. Winfred Rembert would eventually settle in New Haven, Connecticut, where he would pass away in April 2021.
Rembert was honored by the Equal Justice Initiative in 2015 and awarded a United States Artists Barr Fellowship in 2016. His life and work have also been the focus of two documentary films. Rembert’s art has been featured by galleries and museums across the United States.
Winfred Rembert’s life and art are the subject of his memoir, co-written with philosopher Erin Kelly, “Chasing Me to My Grave: An Artist’s Memoir of The Jim Crow South”.
On this week’s episode, Erin Kelly reflects on her friendship with Winfred Rembert and the life lessons and wisdom he shared with her while they worked together on his memoir.
Kelly also shares how Rembert was able to maintain such fortitude, joy, and love of life, family, friends, and creativity even in the face of very challenging day-to-day circumstances caused by poverty and the color line.
Through his art and humanity Winfred Rembert had a profoundly positive impact on many people beyond his immediate circle of family and friends. Erin Kelly shares what it was like to be in the presence of such a special human being.
Erin Kelly and Chauncey DeVega also contemplate questions of the good life, justice, and what it means to bear witness in an American society that is rapidly succumbing to neofascism and so many other forms of evil and injustice – and where most people choose to look away and/or collaborate.
The struggle does indeed come at a cost. Chauncey shares what happened to him during a recent health emergency and how he almost ended up playing the slot machines at the big casino in the sky.
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Music at the end of this week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show is by JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound. You can listen to some of their great music on Spotify.