Inner Child: Sarah Dash on Elizabeth Catlett’s “Bread for All” As told to Souleo
I am the seventh of 13 children. I was raised by both of my parents. My father was the Church of Christ Father of the State of New Jersey and a bishop. As a child I don’t ever recall having a day of hunger. Yet my mother and father said other children weren’t so fortunate.
The title of this work and image of the young girl eating bread reminds me of my dad feeding people in the community. During his later years our dining room was turned into a mini-store with leftover bread from different bakeries around the city. My father would let everyone in the neighborhood know there was always bread to take. Bread had a very spiritual component to my upbringing as it was mentioned in The Lord’s Prayer. Bread was always part of my life.
There is so much in this piece that reminds me of myself as a child. The girl in Catlett’s work has a round healthy face and chubby arms. I went through a chubby phase as a child too. Also the girl seems to have strands of lighter hair and I was born with a gray streak in my head of hair. But most of all, the image reminds me of how I was taught as a child that if someone is hungry and you have a piece of bread, then you are to share it with them.
Sarah Dash is a founding member of Patti Labelle & The Bluebelles, which morphed into Labelle in the '70s (“Lady Marmalade”). Dash has had her own hits with the dance music classics "Sinner Man" and "Low Down Dirty Rhythm."
[This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity]