Strange FruitLarry Elardo
Strange Fruit attempts to make an emotional connection between the horrific violence perpetrated on citizens of color and the enforcement of systemic racism in America.
What first engages the viewer is the sound of the bells, which is both joyous and solemn. The pitch of each bell is unique, defined by its diameter, length, and wall thickness. Each has a distinct color and texture. It is only upon closer examination that one realizes that each fragile, beautiful bell is brutally hung by a noose.
The coffin-shaped wind catcher is a multilayered graphic of headlines and photos documenting the lives lost to a system that is devoid of humanity or respect for life. Like Billie Holiday, who was often arrested for attempting to sing the song Strange Fruit, this piece has already been removed from one outdoor sculpture exhibition because of its content.
My goal as a sculptor is to create a visual, and sometimes also an audio, connection to the issues at hand. The connection has to be emotional, because social awareness and change can only be effected when we as individuals are totally committed to the humanness of every person, when we are able to feel the violation of that lack of respect and see the scars of that pain in the eyes of our neighbors.
Conversation with Larry Elardo
The sculptor discusses the inspiration for his work Strange Fruit and how it relates to the iconic song.