You ever come across a photo where the imagery is so layered that you almost feel it telling you it's story? That's what I felt, what I still feel, when I look at Harlem Renaissance era photographer #JamesVanDerZee's 1929 "Barefoot Prophet" (it deserved its own post. See previous post) photo. First, can we put some #Respeck on the fact this cat is known as "Barefoot Prophet", the street sermon preacher of Harlem, during one of the most creative periods in not only black history, but Art history in general. #WhereIsThisScreenplay? Bare👏🏾Foot👏🏾Prophet 👏🏾fam! Those names aren't earned without merit. Below are the two pieces I found on the #BarefootProphet, aka #ElderClayhornMartin, aka #ProphetMartin, whose legacy is floating out there somewhere, we just can't see yet. Until that day comes...Enjoy!
From Harlem World Mag: "Barefoot Prophet of 1929 is a photograph of Elder Clayhorn Martin (1851-1937), aka Prophet Martin and the Barefoot Prophet, an eccentric street preacher. #VanDerZee constructs a serious image of this well-known Harlem character by depicting him contemplating the Bible and surrounded by the traditional religious symbols of the crucifix and the Virgin Mary. However, his unconventional style is revealed by the inclusion of a tambourine under his chair and his notorious bare feet. "
From Hole In The Clouds: "In this photograph, taken in 1929, the visions of two men come together.
The subject of the portrait is Clayhorn Martin, a Harlem street preacher who had gone barefoot ever since the day in his youth when God told him to shed his shoes and walk on holy ground. Till the day he died, he walked the streets with his tambourine, shouting to the world that God dwells in every single person, not in church buildings or special dignitaries. ...Martin had been born a slave in Virginia in 1851; he died homeless on the street in 1937. Van Der Zee and other artists of the #HarlemRenaissance raised money to give him a proper sendoff, a funeral attended by five hundred or more of his neighbors, his flock."