April 25, 2010
On Hatteberg’s People, Brenda Hall of McPherson knows how important reflections are. She collects African-American figurines and for years have found joy in seeing her heritage reflected back to her in ways that have benefited her children and grandchildren. When you see yourself, you see not only a past…but a future as well.
“If bringing this into my home, in the bedroom, in the bathroom, my kitchen, my everything, if just for that little bit of time my grand children are here, they can dream that impossible dream,” Hall said.
But it is impossible no more. Surrounded by African-American figurines that represent every part of her heritage, Brenda Hall has a collection now…that was impossible when she was growing up.
“It’s a good feeling when you walk in the store and see those and you think ‘oh that is beautiful,” Hall said.
In past years, African-Americans weren’t represented in dolls and figurines - they were invisible. Invisible, until that one day she went into a store and saw her first one.
“But this particular day there was a little black figurine setting there that caught my eye, and I said that is for me,” Hall said.
Now she is surrounded by hundreds of them in every room, and in each face, someone familiar.
“Most of these pieces, I see somebody I know in that piece. An aunt, or an uncle, or that looks like my cousin or my grandson,” Hall said. “Surprisingly enough, most of these lines are by white artists. How can they get us so distinctly? It’s just so beautiful. The details are just incredible."
But perhaps her favorite figurines are the ones that represent church. Her father was a pastor.
“Dad pastured all my growing up years so this was my little haven. This is what I’m all about. This was all we had for hundreds of years, was our faith. Then you would go (to church) and that was your getaway place. It was a time for ladies to put their hats on and get all gussied up and get going and it was just a pleasure. From the time we set foot in there was just an air of enthusiasm and joy and as I look at the people in these pews, it reminds me of my church days, from the tambourine, to the choir, to the ushers, just everything. So when I started building my church, and that was my endeavor, to bring a part of me into my home and I can’t imagine not having my church,” Hall said.
The figurines also give hope to her grandchildren.
“A picture is worth a thousand words and when you are looking at what you want to be and there is a reflection of you looking back, it looks like it is attainable. What better way to put the things we love around us that reflect me, and in the midst of all this you can’t help but be happy. I can shut the door and shut out the cold mean world and I’m happy and I’m content,” Hall said.