In an exciting collaboration between the Columbus Museum and Chattahoochee Valley Libraries, the community is invited for a special Documentary Screening and Talkback Session of All Me: The Life and Times of Winfred Rembert.
Scheduled for Thursday, February 15, 2024, from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm at the Columbus Public Library, 3000 Macon Road, this free public program will off an opportunity to explore the remarkable life and artistry of Georgia native Winfred Rembert. The movie showing will pay homage to this esteemed local artist and provides a unique opportunity for learning and appreciation from the documentary’s director Vivian Ducat, activist Sam Mahone, and Columbus Museum Director of Curatorial Affairs and Curator of American Art Jonathan F. Walz, PhD.
Triumph in Adversity
Winfred Rembert, born in nearby Cuthbert, Georgia, embodied a journey marked by perseverance, resilience, and artistic brilliance. Raised in the heart of the Deep South during the era of Jim Crow, Rembert, the son of a sharecropper, faced the harsh realities of racial tensions while toiling in the cotton fields. His teenage years were deeply influenced by the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement, leading to confrontations with law enforcement.
In 1965, while attending a peaceful protest attacked by white antagonists, Rembert fled in a stolen car, leading to his arrest. In 1967, incarcerated and awaiting charges, he escaped from jail, surviving a near-lynching by an angry mob. For the next seven years, he endured multiple penitentiaries within the Georgia prison system, working on various chain gangs—an experience central to the narrative of his extraordinary art.
Rembert's artistry developed in these unexpected circumstances, as he learned the art of tooling and crafting leather from a fellow prisoner—a technique that later became the means through which he shared his powerful story with the world.
Rembert's journey is a testament to the idea that art can flourish in the most unexpected places. Using hand tools and shoe dye on leather canvases, he depicted scenes and themes from African American life in the Jim Crow South. His artwork, representing resilience, survival, and triumph over adversity, has found a permanent home in collections across the country and is exhibited to this day.
PBS Antiques Roadshow:
On Monday February 4, the featured appraisal of PBS' popular series Antiques Roadshow was Rembert's 2001 work "Moonshiners." It is a very emotional occurrence for both the owner and it's appraiser Allan Katz, as both had met Rembert and had very fond memories of the gentle giant of a man. Check out this clip for an additional appreciation of this talented artist and those who now collect his work.
Pulitzer Prize Winner:
In his final year, Rembert engaged in an extensive series of conversations with philosopher Erin Kelly, to record and bear witness to his life. Chasing Me To My Grave: An Artist’s Memoir of the Jim Crow South was published posthumously in September 2021 and won the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Biography.
Additional Programs in Celebration of Winfred Rembert
Several branches of the Chattahoochee Valley Libraries will be hosting events related to artist Winfred Rembert. Please click each link for details.
- Dessert & Drama Book Club - A book discussion of Chasing Me To My Grave - Saturday January 20, 3:00pm
- Books-n-Brews Book Club - A book discussion of Chasing Me To My Grave - Saturday February 3, 2:00pm-4:00pm
- History Craft Hour: Simple Leather Working - Wednesday February 7, 4:00pm-5:00pm
- Black History Month Storytime - Thursday February 8, 10:00am-11:00am
- Page Turners Book Club - A book discussion of Chasing Me To My Grave - Saturday February 10, 1:00pm-3:00pm
- Teen Takeover: "Jeff's Pool Room" - Tuesday February 13, 6:00pm-7:00pm