ALBANY, GA (WALB) –The Albany Civil Rights Institute's November monthly community night is tonight. It features Winfred Rembert an artist;author;community activist, born in Cuthbert, Georgia.
He's received awards for his work and community involvement in Connecticut. But now he's come back home to inspire the next generation.
Rembert learned how to work with leather from an inmate in jail. Making pictures on leather has been profitable for Winfred. His purses sell for $3,000 and paintings for $25,000.
The work on display shows his bitter life growing up picking cotton and living on a chain gang. When you look at Winfred Rembert paintings, it's a whole lot more than just a pretty picture. "There is a lot of things that happened back in the 50's and 60's that aren't talked about," said Winfred Rembert.
One thing among many that has been kept silent is the Laughing Barrel. "They had this barrel and would call over a black person, tell them a joke. The black person had to stick their head in the barrel and laugh," said Rembert.
Besides being an artist, he writes books and makes purses."It's not a purse it's a story bag. It's a true story about someone living in or around Cuthbert, Georgia," he said.
"Actually a friend of his sold some of his work. He didn't even think anybody would want to buy anything he'd done," said Wife Patsy Rembert.
His living art has captured a true moment in time. "They're true people, true events and none fiction," he said.
"This is actual touchable art. You can touch it and you won't hurt or destroy it," she said.
On the road to self discovery, he wanted something bigger than the cotton fields."I felt like it was a calling out there somewhere, I just didn't know where," said Rembert.
Some of that inspiration came from spending seven years on a chain gain."Nobody wants to go and spend seven years on a chain gang to be an artist. I'm just a lucky guy the way it worked out," said Rembert.
Just because you start in the fields doesn't mean you have to stay there. His world-renowned work has been shown all over the country.
The event is tonight at 7:30 PM at Albany Area Arts Council. Following the art display there will be a Q and A session and book signing.