Ode to the Unsung

“Ode to the Unsung”
1995
Acrylic on Canvas

This early career painting by Ivan B Watkins was inspired by the in-depth historical research on Maroons, African and Indigenous American Resistance and Cultural Maintenance. The subaltern history depicted in this painting of early American history, seeks to capture a moment of action, a slave uprising, supported by American Indians, This was an essential part of the Red Stick or Creek War of 1812 and while it does not seek to depict the locally famous Deslonde Plantation Uprising, it honors its spirit and the unsung heroes and heroines of Black, Red and White Ancestry who fought against colonialism and slaver. Their untold legacies are essential parts of American history and Ivan was seeking to memorialize this in an American style of painting, reminiscent of some 18th Century art.

This dynamic and detailed painting was published as a print in 2002 and sold out and is in the collections of numerous Academics and Collectors. The painting inspired the design for mural that was part of the Restore the Oaks Mural Project under the Claiborne Ave Overpass also in 2002. The mural is nearest historic Hunter’s Field and sits alone on the 9th Ward side of St. Bernard Ave on North Claiborne. This research led to Zambo 1995-96 a multi-media humanities Festival on Black Indians in Chicago. The Zambo event brought together African American, Native American Indian, Latin American, Asian, European performers, historians, poets, genealogists, drum and dance groups and culminated in the 4-Directions Gathering. Zambo – also inspired the Univerity of Chicago to start a course on Black Indians which also earned Ivan a full-scholarship to the University of Chicago, where he received his Masters in Social Science Degree in 2003.