Dressing Ma Smith’s

The following are renderings for The Renaissance Pavilion Project at Strivers’ Row: An outdoor dining experience spotlighting Black owned restaurants and businesses, presented by UberEats with Harlem Park to Park and Val PR Inc.

The project paired artists with architects and participating business to design and create artwork for outdoor seating structures – “parklets” – at participating restaurants. I had the pleasure of working with the JP Design Group on Ma Smith’s, a legacy Harlem business famous for hearty and delightful sweets!

Daughter and mom, Aliyyah and JoAnn Baylor of Make My Cake and Ma Smith’s, Harlem.

These compositions are an effort to convey the Baylor’s colorful and triumphant story, which focuses on the migration of African American women, and their culinary exports, from Mississippi to Harlem. Each includes original artwork, digital elements, and African symbols that represent endurance, strength, and family unity: These are all characteristics displayed by the Baylors and their indelible contributions to cultural life and enterprise in Harlem.

Artwork for 4′ x 6′ translucent interior dividers for Ma Smith’s outdoor parklets

LEFT: This composition speaks to the African American story of migration from the South to Harlem. It includes a rendering of a young boy and girl migrating during The Great Depression (drawn from the Smithsonian Collection), collaged with other images including the Magnolia (Mississippi’s state flower), the circle (representing the continuum of life), and the Adinkara symbol (Dwennimmen) for humility and strength. At the top, a Harlem Renaissance image of Strivers Row underlies, with a  backdrop drawn from my original painting, Tabula Rasa – “which means “new beginnings.”

RIGHT: This composition includes identical background images with a rendering of an image of Josephine “Ma” Smith, JoAnn Baylor’s mother, in the forefront. Ma Smith’s  famous recipes made it up from Mississippi to Harlem and served as the inspiration and foundation for the Baylor’s successful businesses. The Adinkara symbol, Nkonsonkonson, represents unity and human relationships.

I also had the opportunity to work with JP Design Group in preparing family images for the exterior of the parklet. More to come….