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I Know a Man…Ashley Bryan

Ashley Bryan reading Beautiful Blackbird

Maine Public TV Air Times:
Thur., September 3 at 9:00 pm
Sat., September 5 at 2:30 pm

A 97 year old artist who skips and jumps in his heart like a child, yet is a spiritually deep creative genius and poet/illustrator of 50 children's books, maker of magical puppets and sea glass windows from found objects inspired by his African heritage. Ashley Bryan 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.

His life story and the art he makes from this wellspring of experience is an inspiration to people of all ages.

The film opens with Ashley telling a group of awestruck children hilarious rendition of the original tale on which his book Can't Scare Me, was based. But soon after the film delves into the horrors Ashley experienced in war. "When you experience the tremendous carnage," he asks, "Why does man choose war… that destroys everything you've built up? I lived through the time of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and that did it." The film then explores his world as an African American experiencing racism from early on when his father "was given the mop and the broom", a reference to the 1942 Gordon Parks photograph. He quotes Marian Anderson admonishing "to keep another down you have to hold them down, and therefore cannot rise and soar to the potential within you." He takes comfort in and spreads beauty through the spiritual content of his art – his linocut prints exhorting "Let My People Go" and his gorgeous sea glass windows of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. So we begin to see his art as his way of spreading love, joy and peace in a less than perfect world.

See the film's trailers: vimeo.com

I Know a Man…Ashley Bryan is produced by Richard Kane of Kane-Lewis Productions.