McCleary “Bunch” Washington Featured in The Bahá’í Faith and the Arts Course

The Wilmette Institute course The Bahá’í Faith and the Arts (offered for the second time in March) honors McCleary “Bunch” Washington, the late father of Jesse Washington, a reporter for the Associate Press who is taking courses from the Institute. 

One of the units in the course includes a biography of notable artists, writers, and musicians who were Bahá’ís. Many of them are listed on a Wikipedia page devoted to the subject. “Bunch” Washington is one of them.

Washington’s son Jesse features a selection of his father’s artwork on his Web page, where you can view seventeen of Bunch Washington’s paintings and drawings. One of these seemed perfect for the Classroom Page for The Bahá’í Faith and the Arts course, and, with permission, we used it on the page welcoming students to the course (see photograph above). Jesse tells us that the gentleman playing guitar is Bunch himself.

From Jesse’s website, Elizabeth Washington de Souza provides more information about Bunch Washington:

“Born in Philadelphia, Washington was a visual artist who studied at the Barnes Foundation and the Philadelphia Museum School (now University of the Arts). His standard mediums were collage, watercolor, oil on canvas, ink pen, sculpture and bas-relief. He also developed a technique of working with polyester resin to produce a stained glass-like medium he called the Transparent Collage. Consistent themes in his work were family life, music, African-inspired motifs, the Baha’i Faith, and the transcendent nature of the human soul.

“While in his twenties, Washington moved to New York City, where he befriended visual artist and art historian, Romare Bearden (1911–1988). Bearden, now recognized as one of America’s preeminent artists, is best known for using collage to contextualize the African-American experience in universal terms. In 1973, Washington wrote, designed and edited The Art of Romare Bearden: The Prevalence of Ritual, the first major book ever produced about an African-American artist. Both Washington and Bearden shared a desire to promote awareness about the influence of African and African-American art, and to encourage the cross-pollination of art from all parts of the globe.”