According to Wille, he had not been home in 13 years. He was filled with fear and trepidation for many reasons. He could not find the words to say about this work as his feelings about the work had evolved over time.
As he was 30 miles away from home, the words flowed like a river; like the Tar River, the place he was baptized at the age of 6.
Words, they can sting, they can hurt. This installation is the metaphorical and spiritual journey to enlightenment we must take to heal the divides of race and class in America.Willie Little
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Where Willie grew up, Black and white farms stood side by side, divided by fences. Things said about race, on one side of the fence, were equally said on the other; just never together
These majestic African-inspired walking sticks represent many things.
…fences as barriers… African ceptors to protect and to exalt…. emblems of nobility… instruments of battle or ritual…
Their peaceful beauty and strength suggest we all as humans should move beyond the barriers, the battles and the hatred for one another and embrace our commonalities.
We were all born with the capacity to love and have compassion for one another. Hate is learned and derives from fear… love is the absence of fear and acceptance of our fellow man.
These beautiful, majestic sticks are adorned with cockle burs—prickly seed pods that represent African hair in its natural state.
Once a racial epithet, African hair is now re-presented as a symbol of strength and resilience. As many Africans embrace the texture of their hair, they can say today, as was said in the 60s and 70s, “…our hair is beautiful. Blackness is beautiful”.
Four symbols crown these mystical sticks:
The halo (female), horn (male) could represent the characteristics we as humans all have.
The (flame) could light our way on our life journey.
The (diamond)—oh, the riches; for there are many riches that have little to do with money.
Willie’s family grew up poor, but they were rich at the same time. They lived off the soil and “…didn’t want for nothing.”
As they tilled the soil, the earth in turn gave up a bountiful harvest that “…made us rich—rich as the soil beneath our swollen feet.”
…and miles to go before I sleep!
The inspiration of the title comes from a phrase from Robert Frost’s poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.
The speaker says, “But I have promises to keep, / And miles to go before I sleep, / And miles to go before I sleep.” The speaker is traveling and needs to cover some distance before getting back home. – A symbolic safe place of security, love, happiness, nirvana.
We all have miles to go before we get back home. And we have miles to go before we sleep.
Maya Angelou said it many years ago, however it is still apropos:
“We should strive to make this country more than it is today.”Maya Angelou