Mother Blues was originally created for POP! Downtown Greensboro, a Blues-themed storefront window installation project, coordinated by the Open Art Society of Durham, NC in the Spring of 2014. It is a collaboration between Cassandra Liuzzo and illustrator Beka Butts.
The original installation, located in the window front of an abandoned hair-salon at 124 North Davie Street in Downtown Greensboro, was set on a contemporary Dia de los Muertos-style altar, an element which Beka Butts often uses in her work to explore her own Mexican-American heritage. It at once celebrates and reveres the women placed there, with symbolic objects, flowers, lights, and beads highlighting their portraits. Blues is typically a male-dominated field, and, especially as installation began in March 2014 -- Women's History Month -- we wanted to highlight the work of the women who were truly instrumental to the creation and history of American music, but who's names aren't necessarily widely-known outside of their own spheres. Cassandra created a vinyl-record sculpture to frame the altar, mimicking the shape of a bridge - the bridge between past and present, between black and white Blues musicians performing together, between women (particularly queer women of color) taking the stage and setting the precedent for women today, and the bridge the Blues plays as a connector of all forms of contemporary American music.
As for the portraits themselves, each one contains work by both Beka and Cassandra. One artist would do the portrait, and then hand it over to the other to complete the background and the name. For the artists, this was an unprecedented exercise in trust!
The portraits from Mother Blues have also been on display at CFBG Records and Shelf Life Art & Supply Co., both in Greensboro, NC.