Whitney Achievement Elementary School Franklin is a teacher. She also continues to display her amazing artwork at multiple galleries. The Memphis native received her Masters in Arts Education and MFA in Painting from Memphis College of Art. Once homeless, Franklin eventually defeated her adversities and continued to climb many levels in life and creativity. “Anyone can learn and be taught how to draw or paint. Some students who I have taught and entered in art contest and who have won, did not come to me with the gift. What they did have to develop was the ability to see.” Franklin breaks down the dynamic aspects in regards to her students brining their artwork to life. “Seeing requires quieting the brain, silencing negative internal dialogue that has been hard wired by some critical person who has served some important role in their lives. I can immediately identify those students who have been verbally beaten down, they are the first ones to say” I can’t draw” before I even get the chance to outline the process. Bringing these children into consciousness has always been my primary goal as an arts educator.”
There are many challenges or obstacles in which artist face or endure on a regular basis. Franklin elaborates. “I take an inside out approach to obstacles. I assume, right off the bat that they (problems) are coming to me for a reason. Number One: Take care of your end of respect and you just might get some back in return. I know a string of artist when given a paid creative opportunity which started at 10 am, show up at 11 am with a raisin cinnamon swirl bagel, a latte and an excuse which silently interprets itself as “My bad, I’m an artist”. Number Two: Don’t be so desperate that you bite into that hook called exposure.”
In terms of artist lacking hope, Franklin shares words of encouragement to those who are looking to be successful. “Take care of what is important to you. Reflect on as much as you can in a day. They (the answers/the problems/the realizations) are right in front of you, don’t let them (the dots) get as big as quarters before you see them. Preserve the option to shift gears in your process and content, and literally, mentally and figuratively keep people out of your studio who tell you to do otherwise. Just as you turned away people from your studio who don’t want you to change your style, don’t get addicted and too eager for the praise of the new fans of your new attitude,” seriously says Franklin.
“I am really making a point that we are all prejudice in some manner or form. Being fully conscious of whether or not we reject or accept the stereotype (Fabled Truth) is a major move forward. But, the bottom line is that if we react to a stereotype, it is because we have a reference point to it. What remains after the automatic reaction, or the decision to react, is the often neglected, the difficult, but simple acceptance that these thoughts, processed and acted upon, or repealed and protested, lives, will always live, within the human psyche.
“Lord save me from more exposure,” says Lurlynn Franklin, one of several artists participating in both “Present Tense” and the Bottom Feeders auction. Exposure, she explains, is the dubious currency offered in exchange for work donated to an endless string of charity art auctions. Franklin’s work in “Present Tense” uses Southern icons such as Scarlett O’Hara and Colonel Sanders to comment on race and class in the American South
Art Advocacy and Art Education Throughout my teaching career with Memphis City/Shelby County Schools, I had created these self-assigned duties which extended far outside of just classroom instruction. However, it was not until my work with the Achievement School District, and their focus on creating a culture within each of their schools that I was able to define all of this extra stuff that I was actually doing. My official title as an Art Teacher for Whitney Achievement Elementary and Georgian Hills Achievement Elementary Schools is that of an Exploratory Art Teacher. And I had been striving on doing just that throughout my Art Teaching career: Exploring and not limiting my role in giving. Yeah, a lot of other art teachers think that I am crazy and something of a workaholic, which is somewhat true, but I swore when I was down and out, jobless (a number of times), homeless (once and almost twice), and literally standing in a South Memphis food stamp line, that if I was blessed with employment relative to my skills and education, a real job with benefits, that I would treat it like a Ministry, would maximize my role and would seek to empower my students and uplift whatever environment that the spirit chose to drop me in. So, my brand of crazy was to work on and polish and create, with my fine art tools, this word called culture. To transform environments, incite excitement, to make things look good, but beyond that, to challenge student artist, actors and performers, my colleagues, and the stockholders in my schools’community to become a proud part of this beauty, to invest in the best of it and in themselves. The categories are: Set Designer for School-wide Programming and Celebrations In-School Art Shows Local Contest Student Permanent Collections Collaborative Art Integrative Special Projects with Organizations Nationally and Locally Grant funded Writing and Arts projects Children’s Arts Festivals