I have this picture, or a copy of the original hanging in my living room where it has for many years. Beula’s Baby, 1948, by the little known Primrose McPherson Paschal. I remember clearly when purchased this picture. It was a time when African American Art was exploding in the Philadelphia and it was cool to have a few pieces hanging on your walls.
I fell in love with this picture the minute I saw in the Black Art Gallery. As I evaluate my reasoning now I realize that this picture completely depicts the type of artwork that attracts me. Art and literature is very much tied together for me. I like art that tells a story or allows me to tell a story. I need the lines to be clean and clear and allow me to draw a story from their direction. I pick my reading choices the same way. For example, I’m not crazy in the least about Toni Morrison’s writing but I love Maya Angelo. Both African American authors that tell the African American story, but in completely different manners. I’m not interested in the interpretation of a piece when holds no interest to me.
Beulah’s Baby held and stills hold my interest today because of the relationship it represents. The intensity between the mother and daughter is palpable and the artist Primrose Paschal captures everything real and true in the parent/child relationship. This ties into my belief about the importance of this relationship. I have brought my preconceptions, preferences, and expectations into my chose of artist selection without realizing that was what I was doing. I have six Black Art pieces hanging in my living room – Four of them have similar family scenes. It took years before I recognized the pattern of my buying decisions.
I decided to go in search of Primrose McPherson Paschal, who she was, and why she painted this picture (the original is hanging in a North Carolina museum). There is nothing more than a sentence or two about Primrose - a caucasian woman who was born and raised in North Carolina. The wife of a doctor,She painted Beulah’s Baby in 1948. Today, over 50 years later, you will find this print in every African American Gallery selling Black Art.