[Chicago Crossings: Bridges and Boundaries, reel 30; Marva Jolly]

In a 1994 interview with Kartemquin Films, artist Marva Jolly sheds light on the racial issues plaguing America and how she deals with these issues personally through her artwork.

0:43Copy video clip URL B-Roll footage of various ceramic pieces in Marva Jolly’s studio.

1:52Copy video clip URL Jolly explains her initial reaction when the Spertus Museum of Judaica asked her to participate in a group exhibition focused on Black-Jewish relations. “I never thought an awful lot about African-American–Jewish relationships. In the circle I run in everything seems to be pretty good. I’ve always thought Jews were White people.”

2:52Copy video clip URL Jolly talks about her mission as an artist and how it relates to her views on the current racial issues in America. “I don’t think Rodney King’s question [‘Can we all get along?’] is that profound, I think that someone has to say that we will get along… we simply will, there aren’t any other choices,” claims Jolly.

5:48Copy video clip URL Jolly explains her annoyance with the Farrakhan issue and her disinterest with becoming involved.

6:37Copy video clip URL Jolly preaches the fragility and importance of all life, not even just human life, because she believes it’s all connected. “We need grass, we need water, we need air; that’s a life source, and we’re connected to it… whether we understand it or not. We need to help each other to understand what life is about.”

7:57Copy video clip URL Jolly explains her process for completing an artistic assignment, as well as the “gentle, but strong” energy she aims to instill in her figures.

9:05Copy video clip URL In a short aside, Jolly talks about her inspiration for becoming an artist and how profoundly our perspectives are shaped by our upbringings.

9:44Copy video clip URL Jolly continues talking about the imposing nature of her feminine figures. “[Black women] have had to perform, I think, a function that no other women in America have… that is be the total leader of [their] families and [their] communities.”

11:30Copy video clip URL Jolly displays her pieces for the Spertus show and talks about how she hopes the patrons will react to her work.

15:20Copy video clip URL Jolly returns to talking about her artistic process, specifically for the Spertus show. “I always make more pieces than I’m going to put into an exhibition, and then I let [the pieces] help me make the decision about which ones go in,” explains Jolly, going on to tell a story about how her students at Chicago State University also influence her artistic decisions.



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