I Was Blind But Now I See
At Least Out Of One Eye

Cataracts removed on one eye with a Toric lens implant and I have natural distance vision for the first time. I see bright full chroma color which reflects light with neon effect. However, I can’t see close up out of the corrected eye. My other eye is a yellow sepia toned veiled world in which I can see close up but distance vision is non-existent.

This is the second time in my life that God has restored my sight. This time around I’m dedicating my sight to what God wants me to see and render through drawing. I love drawing especially charcoal so as I write my business plan and reorganize my art making, journaling my journey will include drawings, short stories, stitched blankets and shawls on dyed cloth! Thank you Sweet Baby Jesus! “Every time I turn around God is blessing me!”

Nobody Knows ‘da Trouble I’ve Seen

Nobody Knows ‘da Trouble I’ve Seen | Reflections On Being A Motherless Child

On Friday, I went to a Visitation for Ms. Polly. My family is connected to the Hardy’s from Daniel Hill. Her funeral is the first since attending my momma’s two years ago. Ms. Polly’s body was placed like Momma’s and Mama’s. Visitors paying respect mingled in and out looking at her flowers and commenting on how realistic she had been made up to look. In that moment, I saw my own funeral and heard Mama saying, “We’re only promised three score and ten.” I’m three years away from seventy thinking about what will be said about me at my funeral. People will forget everything I’ve said and done and only remember how I made them feel.

What is my story? Classmates, who graduated with me from Darden, remember a quite girl described as being pretty with long hair. I’m dismissed as having no significance, which is how I felt during the six years I attended Darden High School. The more connections I make with Daniel Hill, the more I connect with my own history. My story begins at the Awakening of Fort Neyuheru:ke which empowered me to be a catalyst for reconnecting Algonquin Textiles shared with me through my multi-generational Moon Lodge upbringing.

Daniel Hill is alive inside of me because of a sweet kiss on Sunday, June 10th that awakened a 62-year-old connection to Daniel Hill. My story is unfolding all around me. I participated in the greatest event of my life, Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto. I’m content and my heart is over joyed with visions of color and cloth.

The sharp tongue mean-spirited vengeance that’s engulfing our society today is a pit in hell to be avoided. I refuse to travel down below because my heart is hardened towards others when I’ve made mistakes. I’m a helpless sinner unable to help anyone including myself. It’s only because of the Saving Grace of Jesus and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that I can do anything. We all have days when we get up on top of the world and by lunchtime, the world is on top of us. It’s part of being human. However, every human being deserves to be treated with dignity.

Our roadmap on behavior is explained in the greatest letter ever written, the book of Romans. A man transformed by a Risen Savior while traveling the Damascus Road wrote this Epistle. It’s words like justification, redemption, salvation, righteousness and sanctification clearly outline my responsibilities as a follower of the Nazarene. So before my shrouded body is made up to look like I’m sleeping and put on view with images of my life scrolling across a monitor, what story am I living? What words will describe me?

Our mother’s are ourselves and membership in the motherless child club is a difficult cross for women to bear. It’s where the rubber meets the road in our personal growth and development as human beings. But, death ends our time in this world of the living and “only by faith in things unseen” can we anticipation an eternal existence. Encouraged by my mother’s words, “If you get, give!” “If you learn, teach!” I focus my energy on indigenous Textiles and the dreams of Sage Paul Cardinal, Amy Desjariais, Gillian Kyle and Sarah Dennis-Kooji.

Realizing A Dream Isn’t Coming True

It hurts when we the light bulb in our brain shines into our heart and we realize a dream that we’ve held isn’t coming true. I’m in that place today. I call this feeling the Indigo Blues, and it’s one of the reasons that I can achieve the colors and patterns in the dye works that I create.

On June 10 an event happened that reconnected me with a 62-year-old childhood memory. Place and memory are art concepts that I use in my creative hands adventures. However, in reality these concepts cause me pain in my everyday life. An art professor at Carolina told me at the beginning of my art making life, that it was obvious to him that I had experienced pain in my life because I could create beauty with little effort. The clarity that I experienced by participating in Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto helps me understand my present reality.

With this morning’s brilliant sunrise and promise of a new day, my heart and mind are in sync. My heart doesn’t want to let go of the promise of love that’s been held precious in its inner chamber pumping life through my body. But, I must let go, so that I can live and create in the present not the past. Yesterday is gone forever and it’s no going backwards in life. For me to make art, I have to be in the moment not the past or the future. Today’s breaths and today’s reality are the necessary ingredients that enable me to create something out of nothing.

It all comes back to faith and trust in God. Either I have preserving steadfast faith and unshakable hope in God or I don’t. If I do then I trust God’s plan for my life. I studied Romans in BSF last season and gained insights into what faith, salvation, sanctification and redemption really mean. The greatest letter ever written is a difficult study because it becomes a mirror that reflects our true broken pitiful self through God’s eyes. Romans teaches me how unworthy I am and that it’s only through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that I am capable of achieving anything. On my own, I’m helpless and unable to help anyone including myself.

So, this morning in the light of day, with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes I let go of my 62-year-old connection to a kind six year old. When I was five he gave me the confidence to pull myself up and stand when the weight of the plaster casts on my deformed feet grounded me in hopelessness. His kindness inspires me and I’m thankful for the tenderness of the experience. I’ll put the distress that I’m feeling into today’s indigo vat. As the cloth is transformed in the process, I pray that “Little Canoe” gets me back to Lake Ontario and the Algonquin Nation.

The image today is a sample of the Little Canoe Algonquin resist pattern on indigo dyed cotton cloth that I created last week.  All this week my dye work will explore using this resist technique.

My Journey Home To Myself

Creating handmade functional and decorative goods for trade is rooted in the cultural commonalities of Mesoamerican cultures. It dates back to the origins and development of Mesoamerican urban planning in the pyramid-plaza architecture at Teotihuacan. Eastern Carolina Algonquin oral stories say that, “we came up from the land.” I asked Pa (Bud Harris) once “up from what land?” He said “way down yonder pass ya’ daddy’s people.” So, it’s ironic that I found myself by going up North as so many Southern people of color have done.

After participating in Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto I understand me. Backside vision is illuminating all my “why me” questions and tears. I see God’s plan manifesting in my life to bring me to this moment in time and to this place. Standing beside Lake Ontario on the sacred land of the historical Algonquin Place of Gathering, I gained clarity. It’s not about me as a person, it’s about the event that “made the people scatter” when Ancestors were burned alive and those escaping were enslaved and forced to the Low County Slave Market at Charleston.

Algonquin people are uniting in spite of outsiders who mean to tear us apart with negative energy. It’s about the land, the dirt beneath our feet. Our planet is being brutally raped and is crying out to us. We need to pay attention to our oceans by protecting coral reef and to the waters in our lakes and rivers. Water is scared because it brings life and takes life away. “How the water goes, we go,” I hear Minnie Haskins saying as she read the signs in the wind, birds and trees. Mama was in tune with the land. The birds and the wind gave her knowledge of events for times when she said, “we (women folk) had to cloak ourselves and be invisible.”

The women in my bloodline survived and protected ourselves as we hid out in plain sight for 300 years. I’m born as a seventh generation Gatekeeper where X marks the spot runners went out with the news of Fort Neyuheru:ke. My blood memory is about the geographical area from Toisnot Swamp to Contentnea Creek, under the now paved over Algonquin Trail under Highway 301 Business.

We survived by being quiet, calm and still while making goods with our creative hands. The men did the fishing and hunting, and everyone helped with farming. We kept to ourselves and we kept out of sight. I always remember the Moon Lodge Women describing two camps of women, those with creative hands and the busy bodies with idle hands. The busy bodies needed male attention all the time. They never seemed satisfied or content, but were active buzzing around like bees searching outside themselves for what was internal.

I’m thankful for the journey of my life. It’s been a broken road with side detours along the scenic route. But, oh what a creative and adventures journey that’s not over yet. Warm hugs and abundant blessings to everyone I met at Indigenous Fashion Week.

The featured artwork today is some of the last clay sculpture that I made while teaching pottery at the Arts Council of Wilson.  The flowers are from a rose bush in my BFF’s yard in Piney Woods.  I miss my faithful pottery ladies and spending quality time with my BFF.  Next month I’m reconnecting with clay by rejoining Dan Finch’s Studio.

Fête de la Musique | It’s Pow Wow Time

Hello hot sultry summer, it’s Pow Wow Time! Viens danser avec moi et sois mon amant! The summer solstice always brings back memories of Paris. Memories of making music with my hand drum, singing and dancing in Jardin du Luxembourg and being so happy and full of sunshine that it bubbled out of me like champagne. It was a beautiful day in 1994, when I wore a fresh flower head wreath, and Seminole patchwork regalia.

Screen Shot 2018-06-21 at 7.55.41 AMWearing flowers in my hair connects me with Mat Randolph’s mother, Mary Burnette, who made flower head wreaths for me as a child. Mama Mary was South Carolina Edisto and French and she spoke Gullah French. We adored each other and she considered me her grand enfant.

I’ve got beautiful memories of Mat and Mama Mary capturing the intensity of the summer solstice in an indigo vat. The intense energy of the day makes the brightest indigo blues. The sunlight of the longest day burns away the solitude of winter and ramps up the renewal of spring into the high wattage of summer delights.

Yesterday, I had The Blues but today I feel alive with the light of possibilities. I’m thankful to be alive to witness another summer solstice as we transition into a new season. I’m ready to travel The Pow Wow Highway and dance in the Circle once again.  To God Be The Glory!

The Last Day of Spring | Dyed Cloth & Stitching

The last time I saw my mother alive was in a hospital bed at Wilson Medical Center. Even though she died two years ago in the month of May, the memories of her dying haunt me each year on the last day of spring. The news that she wasn’t going to survive falling and breaking her hip came as a slap in the face to my heart. My mind knew the reality but my heart was in total denial. Momma was ninety years old and after our dog’s Snoop death a month before she had lost her will to live. My momma was a survivor. She had come through breast cancer, a broken heart and a wounded spirit to be a kind champion for justice and equality. Momma and I talked on the phone multiple times a day, and that’s what I miss most.

She would always say, “I love you and I like you, too!”

I miss hearing my momma’s voice. I miss her joy, and I miss her being overly protective of me.

“Dream big and aim high! Don’t just say your dreams, show them!” I can hear her saying in my mind.

The lack of ability that one feels in being able to see through the dark murky veil of grief feels overwhelming on days like today. Once the shock wears off, the funeral is over and you’re left alone fatigue sets in. It feels like being in a heavy mist of ominous gray clouds during an afternoon thunderstorm after a hot humid Carolina summer day.

I hear my momma’s voice in my mind and sense her presence but she is as elusive as a sheet of off-white colored cirrostratus clouds.

I sit in her favorite chair in the family room looking at our dog, Snoop’s toys neatly stacked in his little red wagon and whisper the words, “I love you and I like you, too!”

I feel a mixture of joy and pain. Joy for the privilege of having a momma who lived to be ninety years old. Joy for being blessed by having parents, grandparents and great-grandparents who loved me. But pain, knowing that they are all buried in Rest Haven Cemetery.

Walking Out Transformation

Until my trek to Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto, my art making transformations were limited to Penland School of Crafts. It’s an amazing creative experience to drive up Penland Mountain with one set of skills and in two weeks to drive down with hands transformed by a new skill set. My Penland experiences are like a heavenly tonic that nourishes my art-making psyche.

Today’s image is a close up to the first modern quilt I made, while a student at ECU in a Textiles class.  I’m revisiting it’s concept as inspiration for my new body of work about Daniel Hill.  Unfortunately, this quilt is lost.  I gave it to a friend, who gave it to someone else, and now it’s lost to humanity.  My solution is to remake the design from a different point of view.

Penland is not just about my artwork and art-making processes. Penland is a community of creative men and women who work tirelessly to improve their professional craftsmanship. Art heals our brokenness, and gives us a vision of the fabric that weaves us all together into a quilt of humanity. We are all connected, we all are meant to be creative and to express ourselves by creating something from nothing. It’s part of our shared DNA.

My life is imprinted with a passion for color, texture, pattern and design. I never had formal art education growing up as a child. The first person I saw painting was Bob Ross on PBS. However, I was blessed to grow up in a household with three mothers, all possessing creative hands dedicated to preserving indigenous culture. At an early age, I learned how to make color and apply it to cloth using plants, flowers, nuts and berries. I became proficient at embroidery, crochet, sewing, quilting and pinched clay pots. I saw how knowledge of color relationships and textures were transferred to growing flowers, herbs and vegetables, as well as all forms of needlework. As a bonus that served as my icing on a creative cake, I could see Vollis Simpson’s windmills that are now famously called Whirligigs.   Everything is connected to the land including me. I was taught to pay attention and appreciate the beauty that surrounds me each day.

Indigenous Fashion Week put the circumstances of my life in perspective. I understand why I experience deep feelings and why it’s necessary for me to express these feelings in the highest level of artistic sophistication. The creative process is reconnecting me to, Daniel Hill, a place that fostered identity and a community that provided security to my mother, grandmother and Godmother and to my memories of a six-year-old boy who made me feel that I belonged and could be somebody one day. Continue to walk with me Lord, and illuminate my path on the wonderful adventure of my life. I’m standing on the prayers of so many gifted and courageous people and I’m humbly grateful.

Praying My Memories Haunt Me

My art concepts are place and memory. Since returning from Indigenous Fashion Week the place is becoming Daniel Hill, an indigenous community in Wilson, North Carolina. Two bloodlines made up the people on “The Hill” Algonquin and West African. I represent the Algonquin bloodlines from Currituck down to Chicamacomico, across to Mattamuskeet, up Contentnea to Toisnot.

I’m walking out my dying Momma’s prayers to share stories, plant dyeing and stitching along with my clay with the world. I can hear my Momma’s voice saying, “If you get, give! Share with the world and the world will share with you! Those that learn, teach!”

So, with Pura Fe’s endorsement, I was invited to participate in Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto. The experience is transforming me as The Life Event that will define me as an artist. Standing next to Lake Ontario with small puffs of sharp wind pealing away the circumstances of my life, I experienced clarity. The land of our ancient Algonquin Gathering Place is a tonic of illumination for me.

I arrived in Canada carrying the deepest human feelings of my life. Six days after the second anniversary of my Momma’s death on the Thursday before Memorial Day Weekend, which this year was my 50th Darden High School Class Reunion.

I feel embarrassed that after two years, my Momma’s house and mine still have stuff inside of them. I’m paying rent on my house and using it like a storage unit. I feel like I’m homeless under a “Mountain of Things” that’s crushing me. My Lake Ontario experience is helping me understand why seven generations of women in my family have had to walk out The Blues on the black sandy soil on the Coastal Plains of Eastern North Carolina.

I came close to being a no show at my high school Awards and Memorial banquets. High school is on my short list of worse experiences of a lifetime. I had identity issues, attending Darden in grades 7 through 12, knowing that I was Native with a Reservation Indian father aggravated by living with my mother in a home controlled by her mother. Being in the Band, having a few friends and a one-way bus ticket to get me near my Grand in Big Cypress, Florida enabled me to endure. I never knew the majority of students attending Darden with me, and I hadn’t encountered many of them since high school graduation. When classmates remember me in high school they describe me as being pretty with long hair.

It’s only now, 50 years later that I understand and appreciate the values I learned during my troubled adolescence. What doesn’t kill you, does make you stronger! When I review my life as a whole, I’ve had more joy, happiness, creative moments and beauty than pain and disappointment. God is with me and has been since I was baptized. I am a child of promise, conceived in love, born with purpose as a witness to “walking by faith, instead of sight.” I’m humbled by the circumstances of my life and thankful for every precious breath.

Art by Carola LLC

Going back to my Art by Carola business name brings back pain. I went to grad school with Art by Carola as a sole proprietor business and caught hell behind it. I take ownership of the blame for my grad school failure because I trusted insecure mean-spirited people. And, they did what insecure mean-spirited people do by trying to destroy my creativity.

Except for Jesus their plan would have worked. I’m standing on the blood of my Ancestors, and I even had Cherokee land protecting me while I was there. And then there was Penland, welcoming me each summer to a transformative art experience. Circumstances have a way of working themselves out for the best.

Grad School was my first up close and personal racist experience in an art environment. It was ruthlessly racist, fed by a group of insecure women who felt like there weren’t enough blessings to go around. So, if someone who looked like me at a blessing, then it took something away from the amount they possessed or fell short of possessing. Insecure women in a group feeding each other’s dark feelings are vicious. But thanks be to God, I survived, and what doesn’t kill you does make you stronger. I forgive everyone involved in the Art Department and Graduate School at Western Carolina University. My God show each of you the mercy you weren’t able to share to me.

Precious Memories

Lisa Y. Henderson thank you for providing the following history about my family.  Dear World, God revealed this blessing to me yesterday afternoon.  It’s published recorded information about my family a year before I was born.

The Daniel Hill Educational Club

The D.H.E.C. was organized September 9, 1949, by Mrs. Mattie Randolph. Mrs. Randolph called together some of the parents who lived in the Daniel Hill Community and discussed with them the advantages of having transportation for the school children in the vicinity. The parents agreed with her, therefore organized a Daniel Hill Education Club. Three weeks later the organization had enough money to carry each child of the community to and from school each day, and by December the club was able to buy a small bus of its own. With the cooperation the members of the organization have given, and the help of other people, the Daniel Hill Educational Club now owns a bus large enough to seat 32 persons. Under the leadership of Mr. Moses Haskins, who is now president, the members of the D.H.E.C. are still working hard because they know that cooperation is the way to success.


In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 404 Daniel Street, rented for $12/month, Less Haskins, 38, wife Annie, 39, and son Moses, 17. Annie worked as a laundress; Less and Moses as coopers at a tobacco factory.

On 17 September 1931, Moses Haskins, 21, of Wilson, and Minnie Woodard, 21, of Wilson, married in Goldsboro, Wayne County.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 403 Spruce Street, garage serviceman Moses Haskins, 27; wife Minnie, 31, laundress; children Doris, 14, and Gloria, 6; and mother Annie Haskins, 50. Next door, at 405 Spruce, Paul Randolph, 45, who worked in a garage, and wife Mattie, 39, a practical nurse and South Carolina native.