ChickenBones: A Journal

for  Literary & Artistic African-American  Themes


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 I began creating original works of art using gold leaf.  It was during this period that

I revive 3 lost gilded arts: Panel Painting, Verre Eglomise, and Gilded Bas-Relief

thereby, transforming the gilding arts into a fresh, new contemporary art form.



The Mystic Life

By Phyllis Parun


As a native New Orleanian, I have enjoyed a rich cultural heritage. And I have tried to be a contributor to the development of the New Orleans community. On Sept. 29 from 4-7PM I am helping the Shoalin-Do Studio celebrate their 1st Anniversary in New Orleans with an exhibit of ink paintings and photography in which I integrate art, poetry, and Asian philosophy.  It is the kung-fu of art in both ancient and pop settings. In traditional Taoist and Buddhist philosophy, this type of work is considered to be the joyful soul work, which is my current destination after six decades of trying to live the creative process to my fullest.

In New Orleans art circles, I am perhaps best known for my pioneering work in developing the visual arts community.   In 1976-79 as the Visual Arts Coordinator of the Artists Information Bureau, I was the creator of a monthly newsletter, the city's first artist slide registry, and the city's first business seminars for artists.   During this same period, I founded the La. Chapter for the Artists Equity Assn.   and during my 3 year presidency this group of artist's  first introduction of  the 1% for Arts Amendment to the City Council which was later reintroduced by the Arts Council of New Orleans.

Others know me for opening New Orleans' first fulltime fine and decorative arts studio in the 1980's where I specialized in gilded objects working on every major collection in the city over 12 year period.  Since I was also a creative visual artist, I was able to cross over my conservation skills into the fine arts.  I began creating original works of art using gold leaf.  It was during this period that I revive 3 lost gilded arts: Panel Painting, Verre Eglomise, and Gilded Bas-Relief thereby, transforming the gilding arts into a fresh, new contemporary art form.

Still some know me more recently as a poet and journalist. Perhaps, others remember me for my pioneering activities in the 1980's in the formation of the healing arts community where I immersed myself in the living philosophies of Asian through practicing shiatsu and macrobiotics. And in the early 90's  I gravitated to  qigong,  a kind of Chinese moving meditation that predates  Taji(Tai Chi).

On Sept. 29th I bring the healing arts and visual arts together in one exhibit titled "The Mystic Life" in which I present the qigong of ink painting, combining poetry, calligraphy, ink and miniature painting. 

In the ink paintings I seek movement in emptiness.  In Asian calligraphy the spirit in a line which expresses energy is considered to be the highest requirement of all art.  Ink painting  is not a static art.  To be considered good at it the artist my must capture movement.  The empty space must be active.  The line must embody the essence of the cycle of nature, yin and yang strokes. In this type of energy-painting, the artists' stance and breath control regulate the flow of energy from her feet to her hand.  It is the kung fu of painting, the highest form of spiritual expression. 

The art of ink painting is also a healing art.  Master calligrapher, Professor Wei Xue Feng a scholar and art historian,  from Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province has said that  "There is no trick to living well to the age of at least one hundred.  All you have to do is practice calligraphy."   Prof. Feng is known for his use of calligraphy to diagnose and treat manic depressive patients in mental institutions.

In the photographs I express stillness.  They sit like a Buddha, out flowing the rhythms of internal music like water rushing over a waterfall.  The works are intentionally empty and full of  the essence of life energy or Qi (Chinese ).

The exhibit is titled "The Mystic Life" but it could just as well be titled, "Empty and Full" or "The Kung Fu of Art." 


Whatever its title it represents the culmination of my creative energies and rich cultural  influences.  Please join us for a joyous event on Sept. 29 from 4-7 at Burgundy and Spain in the Marigny. Sat., Sept. 29       

Anniversary kung fu celebration followed by  "The Mystic Life"  ink painting and photographs by Phyllis Parun.  Free self-defense lesson, artist's reception, refreshments.  

Shaolin-Do studio(Burgundy corner of Spain.)  4-7PM  Free.  Joseph Meissner  tel: 314-1001   and


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Weep Not, Child

By Ngugi wa Thiong'o

This is a powerful, moving story that details the effects of the infamous Mau Mau war, the African nationalist revolt against colonial oppression in Kenya, on the lives of ordinary men and women, and on one family in particular. Two brothers, Njoroge and Kamau, stand on a rubbish heap and look into their futures. Njoroge is excited; his family has decided that he will attend school, while Kamau will train to be a carpenter. Together they will serve their countrythe teacher and the craftsman. But this is Kenya and the times are against them. In the forests, the Mau Mau is waging war against the white government, and the two brothers and their family need to decide where their loyalties lie. For the practical Kamau the choice is simple, but for Njoroge the scholar, the dream of progress through learning is a hard one to give up.—Penguin 

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 23 April 2012




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