McCleary "Bunch" Washington, 1937-2008
Born in Philadelphia, Bunch Washington was a visual artist who studied at the Barnes Foundation and the Philadelphia Museum School (now University of the Arts). His standard mediums were collage, watercolor, oil on canvas, ink pen, sculpture and bas-relief. He also developed a technique of working with polyester resin to produce a stained glass-like medium he called the Transparent Collage. Consistent themes in his work were family life, music, African-inspired motifs, the Baha'i Faith, and the transcendent nature of the human soul.
While in his twenties, Washington moved to New York City, where he befriended visual artist and art historian Romare Bearden (1911-1988). Bearden, now recognized as one of America's preeminent artists, is best known for using collage to contextualize the African-American experience in universal terms. In 1973, Washington wrote, designed and edited "The Art of Romare Bearden: The Prevalence of Ritual," the first major book ever produced about an African-American artist. Both Washington and Bearden shared a desire to promote awareness about the influence of African and African-American art, and to encourage the cross-pollination of art from all parts of the globe.
By Elizabeth de Souza, daughter of Bunch Washington. She is currently writing the book "Sleeping in the Fire," a work of creative nonfiction that uses her father's life to illumine stories about African-American artists of the past and present. By exploring the link between artistic genius, culture, and mental health, de Souza highlights the relevance of these artists’ stories to the some of the most pressing concerns of our time.