“American Woman: Columbia instantly brings a level of pride, pain and fear to my awareness of being a Black person in America. The music composed for this particular piece utilizes a toggle between minor and major tonalities that personifies the Black experience in America.
“The end of the piece has a repeating motive over an array of moving and evolving chord types and qualities. This moment stands as an example of the never changing injustice inside of an ever changing and evolving America.”
About the Artwork
American Woman: Columbia
Artist: Tylonn Sawyer, American, 1976-
Medium: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Elisabeth Claire Lahti Fund purchase
Object Number: 2019.3
Collection of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts – Visit website
About the Musician
Rufus Ferguson is an experienced performer, arranger, composer and teacher, who earned degrees from Western Michigan University under the mentorship of Jeremy Siskind and Matthew Fries. He has shared the stage with artists such as Dwight Adams, Bob Hurst, Rodney Whitaker, Ali Jackson, The Temptations and many more.
Rufus got his start studying classical piano at the age of five. He became a gospel church organist at a young age and later began playing jazz piano at age 13. His dedication to being equally well-versed in multiple genres of music has made him a fixture in the regional jazz, R&B and gospel music scenes.
Rufus is currently Education Manager for the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra and Jazz Vocal Accompanist at Kalamazoo College. He also serves as Director of Community Partnerships at the Kalamazoo Music School.