Larry Brown, Founder and Creater of Tribal Timepiece tirelessly endeavors to keep the African tradition of beading alive in the United States through his company Ancestral Beads. Brown, born in Georgia and reared in New York, became interested in beads in the late 1980’s. As he explains it, beadwork came as a spiritual awakening through a series of dreams. “My inspiration came in a recurring dream that simply said, Do beads, Do beads.
After three such experiences, I built my first bead loom and never looked back.” He describes beadwork as a source of meditative healing. “The healing begins inside me. I have experienced growth in my relationship first with myself and in how I relate to others. I also have a close link to the ancestors.”
It is these ancestors that Brown credits the creation of his beautifully crafted beaded jewelry. Brown’s beadwork combines loom beading with hand weaving and crafted leather in hundreds of one-of-a-kind broaches, earrings, chokers, ankle bracelets and locked hair adornments for women, men and children.
Brown’s signature pieces include 4ft beaded sashes designed after the woven Kente cloth of West Africa and his colorful custom made beaded watch bands. The watch face displays Larry Brown’s name which adds to its authenticity and originality. His recent works have expanded to leather and beadwork on canvas.
Brown’s 20 years of experience as a professional photographer have helped him to develop a profound way of looking at the world and its many cultures. “In my travels and photography work, when I encounter other people I want to know the reason behind their artistry, if it’s for ritual, spiritual, religious or other purposes.” The influences from his study, in particular of the Masai and Ndebele people of Africa and the Cherokee Native American, can be seen in the bold colors and geometric designs in his works.
Recognition of Brown’s work is expansive. He was commissioned to do a beaded piece that was featured in Spike Lee’s movie “Girl 6”. Several of his beaded works on canvas were a part of the 1996 Olympic Art Exhibition which toured the world. Brown was also one of the artists selected to sell his works at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and has been published in two books, Beading on a Loom by Don Pierce and The History of Beads-100,000BC to Present by Lois Sherr Dubin.
Brown has given lectures and workshops for schools, community centers and arts organizations throughout the country, including the Bead Societies of New York, New Jersey and Washington D.C. Medgar Evers College has included Brown to their list of instructors of Beadwork in order to keep the art form alive. In keeping with his culturally rooted sense of community concerns, Brown frequently provides bead workshops and demonstrations for inner city young people. He also works with youth groups such as the Roots Revisited, Male Bonding Program at Clara Barton High School in New York and the Phi Beta Kappa Big Sisters Youth Program. Brown uses life experiences in his work with youth, and self empowerment through creative expression is the outcome.
“It is with my culture in mind that I create not only for adornment but to encourage a culturally conscious attitude in all who see my work.”
Larry Brown currently resides in Brooklyn, New York where he continues professional photography.