#HumanitySpeaks

THAT WHICH MIGHT HAVE BEEN, By Eveline Horelle Daily

THAT WHICH MIGHT HAVE BEEN: SPECIAL TO THE QUEEN ESTHER PROJECT

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ALABAMA 1963


This is not my first writing about John Henry Waddell’s That Which Might Have Been.
This time, I write as an individual who is continuously touched by, what might have been,
what could have been, and also what is. I am writing here about a human condition in the
USA and also elsewhere in the world that has not changed much since the beginning of
time.


The phenomenon is called prejudice. Most of us suffer from it. The infliction possibly
comes from our DNA, religions we hold, from the color of our skins, for sure, the content
of our purse. The list is long.


Yes my friend, prejudice, a word we are reticent to infuse in our vocabulary, yet a word,
whose meaning flows in our veins. Few of us are openly willing to accept the emotions
attached to this arrangement of just a few letters.


I see people different than I am — I resent them. Some people speak a language different
from the one I do — I resent them. Some pray differently than I do — I resent them. The
list continues ad libitum, and in perpetuum. These seem to be conditions of humanity.
We choose prejudice, and we keep it in our fold forever. I ask, are we here to perhaps
shed these human afflictions?


I am interested in what we are uncomfortable with. I am attempting to put light on
emotions creating fear.


It is not easy to admit we fear what is different. Our passions and emotions often spin out
of control. At first we deny having feelings contra-religions or social moirés. It takes no
time at all before we act upon the turmoil created inside.


We batter what is different because we want power over it. We destroy what we are afraid
of. We do so in the name of God, country and security, but never do we approach our
motivator: fear that comes from what is different. The hate we experience could come
from what tests our humanity or our consciousness.


We do not nourish the greater self that we are. I attribute this to the possibility that we
may be afraid of our own potential for universal love.


When a child is afraid of the dark, we put a light on for them to see the cause of their
fears. They soon learn not to fear different states of the same.


If nothing else I have learned to express and educate in order to neutralize the objects of
our fears. I believe, this is where real power resides.


To illustrate my idea, I best tell a story.


Sculptor John Henry Waddell and his family were returning home after a two and a half
year stay in Mexico. John was forty-two years old.


Within the proximity of Laredo, Texas, the radio frequencies started to work. His wife
Ruth, also an artist, turned the car’s radio on. An American station came on. John, his
wife and children were exited about the all-English voices. They heard songs, new to
their ears, with tempo almost forgotten. They were approaching home in Tempe, Arizona,
and with that came their mounting joy.


The music stopped, a news program followed, I paraphrase what they heard:
“Birmingham, Alabama, the Baptist Church on 16th Street has been bombed. It was a
black church. This is the year of the Lord 1963. The month is September and today’s date
is the 15th. Four girls, Denise McNair, Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson and Cynthia
Wesley lost their lives.” It was later learned that the bombing was executed as part of the
KKK mode of persecuting, lynching, and oppressing blacks. The KKK is an organization
still in existence today, in the year of the Lord 2017.


In 1963, I was a young wife residing in New York. I still read French magazines. Foreign
born, I did not know about the KKK, I did not know about segregation, and particularly I
did not know about the governor of Alabama.


Into my awareness came the famous phrase of Governor George Wallace: “Segregation
now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever.” I was reading one of my magazines
where the French press reported the death of four Negro young girls in a church in
Alabama. They also mentioned an American sculptor named John Henry Waddell who
was prompted by this incident to create bronzes that would commemorate the four girls.
It was decades later that the founder of Gardens for Humanity, an organization that
molded who I was to become, took me to visit a sculpture garden. This was the place
where John Henry Waddell and his wife resided. This master sculpted at his home and
studio, and the foundry was also on the property. I was excited to see the bronze
creations. I had forgotten the name from the long ago read article.


I drove on a dirt road carved out from the side of a mountain. Close to the edge on the
passenger side was a low slope that made this passage treacherous. To my left a rocky
mountainous high desert raised itself up. Trees and bushes were not abundant.
While driving, very slowly, I kept thinking why anyone would choose to reside in such a
place. Lo and behold, in the periphery, on the mountaintop, a life-size sculpture greeted
me. She was a nude with arms extended and pointing to the direction I was to take. My
smile and my awe demanded that I stop the car. To see her better I would have had to
scale this terrain upward. I admired this work of art from my car.


I continued my slow drive. Loose rocks bigger than my head pounded the bottom of my
sport’s car. A few more feet, also nude, a woman made of bronze played a harp. I swear—
I heard the notes.


The road, if it could be called that, was not made for my low sports car. I realized I had to
keep my eyes glued to where the wheels were making their way to an unknown and
unadvertised place called a sculpture garden.


Soon enough, what resembled a parking area appeared. I stopped and parked the car. I got
out to open the door for Mrs. Adele Seronde, my mentor, a painter and a poet. “You will
love John and Ruth,” she said. The names John finally rang a bell. Could it be the John
Waddell, American sculptor I had read about?


“Come on in. “Mrs. Waddell said. She must have seen the approaching car. We had
brought lunch. I was busy getting a picnic basket and some bags of fruit out of my trunk.
Adele, went ahead on a skinny path made for rabbits. She walked the narrow trail to the
house without difficulties. She obviously had been there before.


The Arizona sun was nearly blinding me. As in a dream, I saw a figure come out of
something resembling a smoky cave. The figure looked like an astronaut. Moments later
off came the strange costume and a gray-haired man appeared.


Determined to make only one trip to the house, I was still struggling with the basket and
the couple of grocery bags. The man came toward me. I noticed the clarity of his eyes.
“Hi, I am John, let me help you.


“We might as well go through the studio. I can point out some of the sculptures to you. I
am working on a large piece. There are sculptures everywhere here. By the way, I did not
get your name.”


“I am Eveline Horelle, and it is an honor to meet you, Sir.”


“Please, call me John. Adele told me all about you and your involvement with Gardens
for Humanity and the gallery too.”


Before I could answer we had walked hundreds of steps among bronzes of all sizes,
including some playing with a ball. He opened a door. Indeed, there were sculptures
everywhere.


My feet stopped, my eyes became focused, in front of me, a small, yellowed by age,
newspaper clipping was taped to the wall.


That Which Might Have Been-Alabama 1963 was the title of the short article. It was
about the American Sculptor I had read about and the four black girls. Decades had
passed. I was no longer foreign to this land and its people. I had become one of them and
I no longer read French magazines.


The photo of the installation clearly showed four grown black women. I was confused. I
suffered a temporary sort of mental paralysis. He kept on showing me bronzes, large and
small. On paper he showed me concepts for future works, and on walls were some basreliefs
and some of his paintings. On benches and other surfaces were sculptures still in
clay form to be casted. My paralyses transformed itself to awe.


We entered the house. Mrs. Waddell greeted me as if we were long lost friends. The
afternoon was delightful. After a simple lunch of salads, a quiche I had made, we had a
variety of fruits.


I left the modest home with John. We went back to the studio. This time, through another
door, various sculpture installations outside patiently awaited my arrival. I saw and
touched bronze. I never did that before. They were larger than life. The amazement I felt
kept mounting and yet, as I entered the property, my thoughts were why be in such a
place.


As we walked, I understood the birthing process of each sculpture. Master John Henry
Waddell did not sculpt anything without a reason. It took a while; I became comfortable
among male and female nudes.


I asked about the article on the wall. The sculptures were not outside. I knew about the
four girls with black skin, blown to pieces by a bomb in a church. I knew they were
innocent children, but no sculptures of dismembered children were to be seen in the
sculpture garden. The sculptures represented in the article were not present either.
John moved a couple of small sculptures from a bench. He sat and I did too. It was time
to give me the explanation I had asked about.


This man, an internationally known master of his art, felt bringing the four girls to life as
adults, would express his intentions better. I discovered the passion of his soul, and yet
the gentleness of his emotions.


Because of our long talk, today I know that each of the figures face one of the cardinal
directions. One of them holds a swaddle cloth, symbolizing the children that will not be
born of her. Two figures look to the outside as if to wonder what will become of the
world they once lived in. One sculpture has a hand upward she faces north. On her raised
arm the sculptor wrote Prayer.


It was during our conversation that I asked John where in Alabama I could see this
installation. He became sadden. The governor of Alabama had not accepted this gift. The
sculptures were not appropriate for his state. The figures of this installation represented
Negro women from his state and under his tenure who would not make it to adulthood.
Perhaps due to ignorance, men of power cannot admit to the wrongs of their prejudice. It
has been over fifty years since the foundry released the first casting of these four nude
Negro women.


Today in the state of Arizona, this installation can be seen and experienced. One can enter
the space between the figures.


The bronze figures look into the massive Camelback Mountain. Find them in a circle,
outside the Universalist Unitarian Church. Ironically, the church is on Lincoln Drive, in
Paradise Valley.


Eveline Horelle Dailey


I write to inspire. If you wish to contact me use my email address:
<evelinenow@gmail.com>

MANAGING EDITOR, "The Prosecuted" a blog of The Queen Esther Project.org

Lisa@TheQueenEstherProject.org

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