I Know a Man … Ashley Bryan is an inspiring new documentary by Richard Kane and Robert Shetterly about this 94-year-old creative wonder who skips and jumps in his heart like a child. Born in Harlem, schooled by the renowned artist Romare Bearden, and raised in the Bronx, Ashley was drafted out of art school into the segregated US army at age nineteen. He served in an all-Black battalion during World War II and preserved his humanity by drawing, stowing supplies in his gas mask. Ashley now lives on the remote Cranberry Islands, Maine, and has been using art his entire life to celebrate joy, mediate the darkness of war and racism, explore the mysteries of faith, and create loving community. He is a poet/illustrator of over 50 published children’s books, and makes magical puppets and sea glass windows from found objects inspired by his African heritage. The film explores his world from the time his father “was given the mop and the broom”, (a reference to the Gordon Parks photograph). He quotes Marian Anderson admonishing “to keep another down you have to hold them down, and therefore cannot … soar to the potential within you.” He spreads beauty through his linocut prints exhorting “Let My People Go”. His life story and the art he makes from this wellspring of experience is an inspiration to people of all ages.
Ashley is the recipient of three Coretta Scott King Awards, a NYC Public Library Literary Lion Award, and a 2017 prestigious Newbery Honor Award for his latest book Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life.
Sponsored by the Union of Maine Visual Artists, a 501c3 not for profit educational organization in collaboration with The Ashley Bryan Center www.ashleybryancenter.org