I Know a Man ... Ashley Bryan (2016, 73 min.) by Richard Kane and Robert Shetterly is about this 94-year-old creative wonder who skips and jumps in his heart like a child. He served in a World War II all-Black battalion and experienced the racism of a separatist Army and the carnage of D-Day. As a result he dedicated his life to creating beauty and joy, spreading love and awe through his art. He's a poet/illustrator of over 50 children's books, makes magical puppets and sea glass windows from found objects inspired by his African heritage. Ashley lives on the remote Cranberry Islands, Maine and has been using art his entire life to celebrate joy, mediate the darkness of war and racism, explore the mysteries of faith, and create loving community. The film explores his world from the time his father “was given the mop and the broom”, (a reference to the Gordon Parks famous photograph). He quotes Marian Anderson admonishing “to keep another down you have to hold them down, and therefore cannot … soar to the potential within you.” He spreads beauty through his linocut prints exhorting “Let My People Go”. His life story and the art he makes from this wellspring of experience is an inspiration to people of all ages.
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"A major achievement ... the film flew by so quickly mostly because of Ashley’s remarkable energy, love of life, spiritual and social aspects, and most of all, his lifelong devotion to the arts which have sustained him. You captured it all."
Bruce Brown, Curator Emeritus of the Center for Maine Contemporary Art