ROCKLAND — The documentary film I Know a Man... Ashley Bryan by Sedgwick filmmaker Richard Kane and Brooksville political artist Robert Shetterly will be presented Sunday, July 17, at 2 p.m., at the Strand Theatre. This screening follows the Farnsworth Museum’s Community Open House Honoring Ashley Bryan.
A distinguished artist, author, storyteller and teacher, Bryan’s artistic work includes paintings, linocuts, illustrations, puppets, and stained glass.
“Widely honored within the field of children’s literature, Bryan is renowned as the author and illustrator of more than fifty books for young readers, and is particularly noted for his work in bringing the oral tradition of African folk tales and African American spirituals to new audiences through his vibrantly illustrated books meant to be read and shared aloud,” said the Strand, in a news release. “A gifted narrator, his lively call-and-response performances have captivated audiences worldwide.”
Born in Harlem and raised in the Bronx, Ashley Bryan’s talent was nurtured by artist Romare Bearden. Bryan was drafted out of college at Cooper Union in New York City into the segregated US army at age 19. He served in an all-Black battalion during World War II and preserved his humanity by drawing, stowing supplies in his gas mask. For the past 53 years he has lived on the remote Cranberry Islands and has used art to celebrate joy, mediate the darkness of war and racism, explore the mysteries of faith, and create loving community.
In the film Bryan quotes Marian Anderson admonishing “to keep another down you have to hold them down, and therefore cannot … soar to the potential within you.”
“His life story and the art he makes from this wellspring of experience is an inspiration to people of all ages,” said the Strand. “Bryan urges us to seek unity over division, peace over war, and love over intolerance and bigotry.”
Bryan is the winner of the New York Public Library's Literary Lion, several Coretta Scott King awards, and the Newbery Honor for one of his latest books, Freedom Over Me.
He died on February 4, 2022 at the age of 98.
Tickets for the screening are $8, or $7 for Strand Theatre members. For tickets and information, visit www.rocklandstrand.com or call 207-594-0070.
The Strand Theatre is located at 345 Main Street, Rockland.