Ashley Bryan’s World

September 10, 2016

Film created by Richard Kane

Painting by Rob Shetterly

Painting by Rob Shetterly

I Know a Man … Ashley Bryan (2016, 73 min.) and Ashley Bryan’s World  (2016, 32 min) is a story about this 93-year-old spiritually deep creative wonder who served in an all-Black battalion in WWII and experienced the horrible carnage of D-Day.  As a result he dedicated his life to art — creating beauty and joy, spreading love and awe.  He’s a poet/illustrator of over 50 children’s books, makes magical puppets and sea glass windows from found objects inspired by his African heritage. Ashley 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 hilarious story from his new book Can’t Scare Me to awestruck children.  But soon after the film delves into the horrors he experienced in World War II at D-Day.  “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 1943 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 beautiful sea glass windows of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  So we begin to see his art as his way of spreading joy and peace in a less than perfect world.

Viewing opportunities
Reel Pizza, Bar Harbor

MIFF-By-the-Sea Film Festival

I Know a Man … Ashley Bryan (73 min.)

September 17   1:15pm

September 19   6:15pm

Camden International Film Festival

Rockport Opera House

Ashley Bryan’s World (32 min.)

September 18   10am

Stonington Opera House

I Know a Man … Ashley Bryan (73 min.)

September 22   7pm

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