Engraved text on the work:
I had an aunt, Aunt Pink. And my mamma was named Pink. Aunt Pink used to come to church on Sunday morning. When she’d first come in the door, she’d start rocking and strutting. Be clapping and patting her hands. She was so full of religion. She’d come and she’d set over there and she had one certain seat. Nobody better not sit in it because she wouldn’t sit nowhere but there. Whole while she’d be sitting there, she’d be patting and praising god, and you know, saying all kinds of different words. And us children we used to laugh at her, make fun of her.
And one Easter, all us little children, you know, our little blue and pink and yellow and white dresses, you know, dressed up for Easter. We had our little place where all of us sit. Aunt Pink come in shouting and slapping and patting. The pastor got up and took his text and went to preaching. She jumped up and throwed her fan one way and her handkerchief the other way and she went, started down the aisle patting and, you know, she fell dead! And when she fell dead, baby, when them men run there and picked her up, she was stone dead.
They shook and rolled her and fanned in her face and done around there. And the more they fanned, the more they know she was dead because she went to getting stiff! Lord, all of us children was scared to death. We knew how we had been laughing, making eyes at her, you know.
I had always heard — old people said the spirit of god couldn’t dwell with a man always. Said it would kill you if you kept it. Say if you kept it over time, it would kill you. Well, Aunt Pink kept it. Aunt Pink stayed happy. Well, you know, the bible call it Holy Ghost. Well, if it would dwell with a person too long I believe it would kill you. It don’t last you but a few minutes. It don’t dwell with you no half a day or three or four hours. It may hit you kind of like lightning. But Aunt Pink stayed happy all the time. Sure did.
Artist’s note: I interviewed a woman about her grandmother, whose mother was a slave. Then she told me about her colorful aunt.
*Private collection of J&J Brayshaw, NYC, 2008.