For Martin Luther King Day I thought I would share this book I picked up a couple of years ago while my partner and I were in India visiting friends and doing a tour of progressive micro publishers. It was put together by the good folks at Tara Books. I See The Promised Land is the result of collaborative effort by Bengali Patua scroll painter Manu Chitrakar, African American writer, griot and blues singer Arthur Flowers and Italian designer Guglielmo Rossi.
Patua scroll Painters traditionally toured local villages with their work singing a narration of the of the painting for food and money. You can see an example here of how the artists would animate the work. This book is an example of how the medium is changing as artists address current affairs and social issues through the medium. Gita Wolf of Tara books expressed here keen interest in looking at ways to adapt the scroll form by creating this graphic novel or modifying it as see in the fantastic and harrowing screen printed accordian book Tsunami. There was a conscious decision to bring together folks from 3 different continents and races to tell this story which has the feeling of a fable at times. It is interesting to see the representations of American race politics through the eyes of someone who has never been to the U.S.. After hearing the story of Martin Luther King he was so inspired he began painting the scroll that became the graphic novel. Overtop of the images is the text of a poet and who grew up in Memphis an active participant in the civil rights movement.
Here is a video of Arthur Flowers describing the project: