Black Meetings and Tourism

Nov/Dec 2011

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BY PATRICIA ANN JORDAN A MINIATURE MUSEUM TELLING OUR HISTORY AND OUR WOMEN HONORED W her arm greetings to you,my faithful readers. Can you believe that fall is here? As the seasons change, I hope you're experiencing positive change in your lives.We humans should ever grow and ever evolve. Karen Collins saw life/dream evolve. It took near- ly 15 years to build her African Ameri- canMiniatureMuse- um collection, and now it is permanent- ly displayed in Leimert Park Vill- age,LosAngeles. Collins crafted the tiny scenes, scene by scene, inside shadow boxes of all sizes to share with schools across Los Angeles as a traveling history channel. Several times a year, she and hubby Ed Lewis rented a truck and hauled the collection to classrooms in Compton, Inglewood and South Los Angeles. Wide-eyed children were fascinat- ed with everyminiature figure and detail. Ever so adept, Collins constructs lit- tle picture frames withBlack faces; itsy- bitsy versions of Black magazines; minuscule food out of clay and wood for the kitchen — col- lard greens, glazed ham and black-eyed peas.No detail is left out. Toilet paper becomes tree branches, paper clips glasses, yarn hair, per- fume bottles lids and hats. She makes tiny clothes out of old shirts and dresses. Lewis builds the shadow boxes, which house her 10 creations, and stains each tiny bookshelf, table, chair and lunch counter. Themotivation for hermuseumcame because of her son. In 1991, just short of his high school graduation, Eddie, the eldest of two children, got caught up in gangs.He is nowserving 167 years for a third-strike conviction for attemptedmur- der. Collins went into a deep depression. She attributes themuseumwith keep- ing her sane…with being her therapy. She believes if she can showjust one child howmuch people sacrificed and gave for their freedom…if she can light just one spark," then all her work is worth the effort." She spends hours in her workshop, a corner space near the closet in her bedroom. She works from the edge of her bed,next to a smallwooden table,where her clay molds are stored inside an old plastic baby wipes case. When you visit themuseumyou will see aminiature HarrietTubman, the abolitionistwho freed slaves in the 1800s; Thurgood Marshall, who became the first African-American U.S. Supreme Court Justice in the 1960s; and track star Florence Griffith Joyner, an Olympic goldmedalist in the 1980s. Once an elderly lady told Collins, "'Honey, don't stop.You have our dreams inside those boxes.'" To see those dreams call (310) 638-1656 or come to 4339 Degnan Boulevard, W-F, 11amto 4pm. Freedom's Sisters, an interactive exhibit that tells the story of African- American women who changed the world, is at the Museum of Tolerance, Los Angeles through January 8, 2011. This emotional experience honors 20 African- American women, fromkey 19th-century historical fig- ures to contemporary leaders, who have fought for equality for allAmericans.The exhibition is introduced by a video and electronic projections of strong artistic images that will seize visitors' emotions. Organ-ized around the themes of"Dare toDream,""InspireLives," "Serve the Public," and "Look to the Future," graphi- cally striking interactive stations tell the stories of Harriet Tubman, Mary McLeod Bethune, Septima Poinsette Clark, Fannie Lou Hamer, Dorothy Height, Coretta Scott King, Rosa Parks, and 13 other women leaders. It also honors local women who embody effecting change in the world. Karen Collins is a local honoree. Freedom's Sisters, is collaboration between SITES and Cincinnati Museum Center and sponsored by FordMotor Company Fund. Call (310) 553-9036 or visit Black Meetings & Tourism November/December 2011:

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