Growing up as an African American in north Louisiana in the 1930s and 1940s, Sarah Albritton managed to take care of herself in her own way. On her journey away from the pain of poverty, abuse, and racism she experienced, Sarah Albritton has expressed herself in a variety of artistic modes: food preparation, restaurant decor, yard art, Christmas decorations, autobiographical prose and poetry, and most recently, narrative combined with paintings.
This collection of her first touring exhibition includes forty-nine paintings in full color accompanied by Albritton's stories as transcribed by folklorist Susan Roach. While other self-trained women artists celebrate the glories of the past, there is a stark reality to Albritton's work. Her people are still plowing in the near dark of evening. Her happy children are swimming in polluted streams. There are angels and lightning in her skies. And when she tells her stories, they are direct but never maudlin--"I was born in hell," she says. "I grew up in hell."
But there is a perseverance running through On My Way. The colors here, often grays, browns, and muted greens, rise and converge as do many of her images of people flying to freedom or walking trails. As John Michael Vlach says in his foreword, "The essential point to be taken here is that Albritton's confidence and her will to survive may owe much to the examples of courage and endurance widely available in the African American community from elders who had known the days of slavery."
Susan Roach, folklorist and professor of English, writes an introduction that merges Albritton's biography with the many arts she practices. Peter Jones, artist and professor of art at Louisiana Tech University, gives us the national context of Albritton's work and traces her development as a practicing creator.
Sarah Albritton is a Ruston, Louisiana, restauranteur and owner of Sarah's Kitchen. Born in Arcadia in 1936, she has devoted much of her life to the culinary arts and has conducted cooking demonstrations for the Louisiana World Exposition and the Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife.