André Robert Lee and I went to school together at Germantown Friends School (GFS) in Philadelphia, PA.  We sang in choir, acted in plays and sat  together in classes for many years. In 2011 he documented his experience at GFS in the film The Prep School Negro, which I found incredibly moving. In it he reveals the challenges of attending an elite private school as a student of color on full scholarship. He conveys the deep internal conflict of simultaneously feeling excited and guilty about gaining access to this world of privilege and knowledge and the painful distance he experienced in his relationships with his family as a result of their divergent experiences. In honor of André's courage, honesty and heart in telling his story and opening up dialogue across the country on themes of race, class, equity and social justice, and in honor of the wit and good humor I have always known him to have I made this piece of art. Depicted here is one of André's favorite songs, a song his mother used to sing in a Philadelphia gospel choir: Reverand James Cleveland's "God Has Smiled On Me." I chose the chorus because it reminds me of the great success André has had in his work and advancing his message.

 

God has smiled on me.

He has set me free.

God has smiled on me.

He's been good to me.

 

2014. Decoupage paper, tissue paper and thread on paper: 10.5" x 13.5" (16" x 20" framed).

For André Robert Lee