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Kindred Spirits

Video/Action is the fiscal sponsor for Kindred Spirits, a project being developed by filmmaker Cintia Cabib.  The half-hour documentary will introduce viewers to the work of a relatively unknown African American woman artist, art educator and native Washingtonian, Hilda Wilkinson Brown (1894-1981), whose paintings and illustrations documented the neighborhoods of Washington, D.C. and the daily lives of black families.  The film will also explore the special relationship between Wilkinson Brown and her niece, local artist and educator Lilian Burwell, who became a widely exhibited artist and was encouraged by her aunt to pursue her art and become an art teacher in the D.C. public schools.

Wilkinson Brown painted modernistic and abstract scenes of Washington, D.C. neighborhoods, created linoleum block prints, painted portraits, and did commercial illustrations.  A graduate of Howard University, she designed the art curriculum for D.C. Public Schools.  Although she is a little-known artist, her artwork is now in major museums, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Lilian Burwell grew up during the Great Depression.  Wilkinson Brown was her mentor. 

Burwell creates abstract paintings inspired by nature and three-dimensional "sculptural paintings":  wooden sculptures covered with a painted canvas.  Her artwork has been exhibited widely.  Through interviews, shots of the artists at work, images of their artwork, historical photos and video footage, the documentary will show their development as artists, their diverse artistic styles, their special relationship to each other, the challenges they faced growing up in a segregated society, and the significant contributions they made as art teachers in the D.C. public schools.  Interwoven in the documentary will be the history of LeDroit Park, the historic D.C. neighborhood where Wilkinson Brown and Burwell lived for many years and which had a deep influence on their lives and their art.

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