LEGACY honors the leadership and service of John Wesley Dobbs as translated through papercutting and animation. The graphic quality of papercuts requires a whittling down of visual information to the essential details. For such an accomplished visionary and community activist, the task was overwhelming. After careful consideration, I settled on directing the viewer's attention to Dobb’s role in mobilizing the Black Vote. His voter registration efforts made real concrete and lasting changes. The sheer number of voter turnout required local politicians to reassess their relationships with the Black community and put pressure on them to follow through on their promises made to Black communities like Sweet Auburn Ave.
Viewers may notice that the style and aesthetic of LEGACY
is reminiscent of vintage postcards and posters. This design choice is an intentional nod to J.W. Dobbs’ many years of service as a postal officer. The U.S. Mail Service was “one of the few institutions in America that had an integrated workforce and was arguably one of the largest employers of African American labor. Dobbs would ultimately be promoted to a supervisory role over both Black and White employees.
Though LEGACY is technically a digital billboard, I personally think of it as a postcard from me to each and every viewer reminding them and myself that our lives leave an impact. I ask that we invest in one another, engage with the history of Atlanta, and participate in the decisions that govern our lives by voting.
Jerushia Graham is the Museum Coordinator for the Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking and a working artist. She is an Atlanta-based printmaker, papermaker, book artist, and fiber artist who exhibits both nationally and internationally. She was born in Fort Jackson, South Carolina and grew up on military bases in Kansas, Germany, North Carolina, and Georgia. Graham is interested in creating spaces for empathy and socially-minded introspection through her artwork, workshops, and curatorial projects.
Graham is a member of the Book/Print Artist/Scholar of Color Collect, the Movable Book Society, and the North American Hand Papermakers. She served as the first VP of Exhibitions/Curatorial for the North American Hand Papermakers (2020-2021). She has also been a guest curator for the Zora Neale Hurston Museum in Eatonville, FL and The Hudgens Center for Art and Learning in Duluth, GA. Graham was previously the Education Director for Atlanta Printmakers Studio, a foundations professor for the University of West Georgia and the Art Institute of Atlanta-Decatur and a book arts/papermaking/print professor for Kennesaw State University. She has taught classes for Arrowmont Arts and Craft School and Paper Book Intensive at Oxbow. Prior to her work in Georgia she served as the Museum Director and Education Coordinator for Spiral Q, an arts and social justice non-profit in Philadelphia.
Graham exhibited as one of five artists selected by the GA Committee for the National Museum of Women in the Arts exhibit at MOCA GA, Paper Routes: Women To Watch 2020. Several of her works have traveled the state of Georgia in Highlighting Contemporary Art in Georgia: Cut and Paste, an exhibition sponsored by the Georgia Museum of Art and Lyndon House Museum. In This Place, a solo exhibition was featured at the Hudgens Center in Duluth, GA (2022).
She is an alumnus of The Creatives Project artist residency, the 40th St. AIR program, Experimental Printmaking Institute internship, African American Museum of Philadelphia work study, and The Fabric Workshop and Museum apprenticeship program. She earned an MFA in Book Arts/Printmaking from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA, and BFA degrees in Fabric Design and Printmaking from the University of Georgia.