Susan Mask


The inspiration for my exhibit Back Then is Oberlin Village (Raleigh, NC). Oberlin Village was a Freedmen’s Bureau community founded after the Civil War by formerly enslaved Blacks, including some of my ancestors. My paintings are based on family photographs from the early 20th century that capture the spirit of the African American community that flourished there. It is a testimony to the African American resourcefulness and resilience that despite Jim Crow and many other indignities they thrived. The pieces featured are part of a series of paintings, some done on the background of documents—a writing by my grandfather who fondly recalled growing up in Oberlin Village, or a page from a precedent setting property case that my great great grandmother won. There are many lessons of fortitude and renewal that we can all learn from this uniquely American story.


Founders Day, watercolor, mixed media on canvas board, 16 x 12, Inspired by a photo of my Aunt Mildred and friends presumed to be at Founders Day, 2020, $600