"Imagining Home": Presentation & Workshop Information by Bweela Steptoe
The SFC Gallery is exploring the idea of “home” in all of its many facets with Imagining Home, an exhibition featuring the illustrations, paintings and drawings of John Lewis Steptoe. Join a gallery walk-through with Bweela Steptoe, a literacy advocate and workshop presenter. Her mission is to educate and share the legacy of her father, John Lewis Steptoe, the award-winning children's books author and illustrator, with the world.
Home can be a physical space or a state of mind. It can be brick-and-mortar but also encompasses people, rituals, food, language, neighborhood landmarks and public meeting spaces. Home is an amalgamation of spaces, people, sights, sounds and things, ranging from cushy sofas to wall tapestries. In Brooklyn, home conjures up stoops and fire escapes. It is all of the things that shape our well-being and, ultimately, our human and spiritual development. Memories — good, bad or neutral — are shaped at home.
To use "refuge" interchangeably with "home" is misleading. Refuge implies sanctuary or a place of comfort. Home, however, is more complicated and nuanced, conjuring up a multitude of memories and emotions. Home is a catchall to include the places and people who raise you, grow you and stretch you. It can be a place of birth or a place of resettling. Franciscan principles relate home to hospitality. Hospitality is sacred. It provides warmth, sustenance and cheer as a divine connection.
Home can be your center, a place where you return repeatedly to reminisce and refuel. It is where you are affirmed. It is where you are welcomed, embraced and able to remove the mask. You can be you. Home doesn't require pretense. Though home has the potential to unleash warm sentiment, it is constantly shifting and changing. Homes are constantly being built, demolished and added on to, as our needs and desires change. It's both the place we run to or run from.
About the Artist
John Lewis Steptoe was an inspirational artist who highlighted the best of African-American culture with pride. Steptoe was born in Brooklyn and raised on Monroe Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant. In 1966, at the age of 16, he published his first book, Stevie, the very first picture book to capture the Black experience. Stevie is a story based on Steptoe's experiences growing up, and it received national attention when it was published in its entirety in Life magazine. It was hailed as "a new kind of book for black children." HarperCollins published Stevie in 1969, when Steptoe was 19. During his 22-year career, Steptoe published 17 books: 11 that he wrote and illustrated, five that he illustrated and a final one published after his death in 1989.