"The Rose That Grew From Concrete"
"The Rose That Grew From Concrete" - 48"x60" - inspired by Tupac's poem of the same title, continues the artist's experimentation with texture to communicate poignant cultural messages.
Did you hear about the rose that grew
from a crack in the concrete?
Proving nature's law is wrong it
learned to walk without having feet.
Funny it seems, but by keeping its dreams,
it learned to breathe fresh air.
Long live the rose that grew from concrete
when no one else ever cared.
In this piece, Hibbert simultaneously exhibits both literal and metaphorical interpretations of the poem. The block of gray stucco in the foreground resembles cracked concrete with a rose emerging subtly yet proudly from behind it. Painted behind the concrete is the resemblance of vertical wooden planks. Both the wooden planks and concrete block subconsciously register in the mind as unlikely places for a rose to flourish. The placement of wooden planks underneath the concrete also implies a sequence or chronology of barriers through which the rose must transcend. When viewed through a cultural lens, one might interpret this chronology in a variety of ways.
Long before the cold concrete of ghettoes and public-housing projects, African Americans endured the wooden floorboards of slave ships traveling through the Middle Passage. Lined with dead bodies, feces, and disease, these floorboards housed the most extreme of human conditions - through which the ancestors of today's African-American people survived. In this piece, Hibbert reminds us that through wood and concrete, from slavery to poverty, we must celebrate the roses that kept their Dream and “learned to walk without having feet".
The correlation of time and physical depth in the painting also erases the imaginary barrier between the viewer and the piece. Much like in "13th" (another painting in the Good Mourning, America series), Hibbert requires the viewer to become a part of the piece, upon recognizing that his or her immediate space is the layer which follows the concrete. This realization of involuntary participation provokes the question, "In the same manner that concrete followed wood, what is the new barrier that the Rose must endure once it emerges from the concrete?"