What a blessing it is to see a boy become a man. My little brother Leon is a highly successful artist and entrepreneur who exudes confidence. His latest sculpture, The Weight of Fallacies, stands more than 15 feet tall and is prominently featured inside the Charlotte Street Foundation Gallery in Kansas City, Missouri. And much like the work itself, Leon’s journey is a study in facing fears and being honest with ones’ self.
The little boy who didn’t want his big sister to leave him in kindergarten now has no problem telling me to “get lost” after a tiring day in his studio. Tiring because the piece (as the name implies) is heavy. Using a walnut slab, steel, teak teepee poles, graphite patina, and other materials, Leon’s sculpture creates a commanding presence. A monolithic tower representing America is punctured in several places by giant spears/daggers.
“My art career began from the depression of racism,” he says, snapping pictures of his piece. I don’t have to ask the genesis of his depression. For a black man in predominantly white fields, racism comes with the territory, and Leon has held highly prominent pioneering positions in the work world. “My creativity is my freedom,” he adds, studying his finished piece like he could add to it. Fittingly, a quote from James Baldwin greets visitors to the gallery: “What poses for identity in America is a series of myths about one’s ancestors…we have a whole race of people, a whole republic who believe the myths…”
“Graphite signifies the racial prejudice that covers every surface and rubs off with the slightest contact,” says Leon, adding that the layer appears innocuous “but touches everything in American society.”
Great art lends itself to various interpretations, and this piece certainly will generate discussion. For me, it speaks to the fact that racism has wounded America, that such punctured towers cannot stand, and that it will require some heavy lifting for this kind of damage to heal.
The Weight of Fallacies helps us get there, and I’m glad to know that Leon Jones has found healing in art and proud to say that he ain’t a heavy — he’s my brother.