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The Mothers Grail: Truth in Graphic Novel Form

Our voices reflected - a Vision Quest from a Black Mother's dream to Speak Truth, universal truths across cultures and generations.

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Campaign Ends on December 31, 2020

Project Description

Thank you for stopping to read.

I am hoping that this is finally my opportunity to be heard.

I am raising funds to turn one of my most beautiful novels into a visual experience. 

I want to complete an illustrated novel that I hope touches us all as sisters, mothers, and women in America and in the World on a deep and abiding level.

JV Davenport
JV Davenport

In 2003, I woke from a dream.

Heavily pregnant with our seventh child, a beautiful girl who would come "any day now", I was sleeping fitfully and up and down painting until the wee hours of 3am. It would take over a decade before even making it onto paper.

When it took written form, it became the novel, The Mothers Grail.

 So you can sample its passion, I am sharing this: 

In 2014, I wrote a dedication for its most recent draft then. It went:

Dedications:

To my husband, James.

To Celia, a 19-year-old slave woman hanged in Fulton, Missouri, in 1855 after stopping her five    years of rape by killing her owner.

To my mothers and grandmothers, and then to my fathers and grandfathers.

To my children [and now grandchildren.] 

So, could you feel that dedication? It encompasses just a bit of the haunting imagery of the story.

And its power. 

I would like to share this power with you.

What is The Mothers Grail about?

It is an action-adventure, a vision quest, a historical fiction meant to be wrenching and also to give Hope:

A Triptych Page from The Mothers Grail
A Triptych Page from The Mothers Grail

A young Black American woman in Virginia comes home in the evening with her baby daughter to find her treasured great-grandmother's mirror smashed --- and her husband gone!

Thus begins a time-travel quest through the lives of women in different eras and different cultures on a mission to rescue him. 

Our protagonist will NOT - if she does not collect from each of these experiences what she needs in order to find redemption.

Emergent from a dream I had right before my youngest daughter was born (and she is now 14), the Mothers Grail takes us through the lives of a mother escaping slavery, ancient women in Japan, a Native woman on the Trail of Tears, a Russian immigrant having a baby on American soil, and more.

While using universal themes as the clay of my story but purposefully avoiding a recent scandal where stereotypes supposedly prevailed and cultural appropriation and misunderstanding was an issue, the imagery and the immersion into the various truths of each woman is sieved through the experiences of real women from these cultures, while still holding the promise of the magic of fictionalization, which allows a depth of exploration into common humanity that is usually so difficult to achieve.

The Mirror in Blue from The Mothers Grail
The Mirror in Blue from The Mothers Grail

But I want to give my sisters more. I want to turn The Mothers Grail into a graphic novel.

In this past year, as time continued to march on and, as a mother of many and as a Black women I continued to find myself immersed in the struggle even before COVID and then the final tipping points of George Floyd- Breona Taylor-Ahmaud Arbery evoked even more the fears and ties that bind we dance with as Black and Brown mothers in America, I decided I wanted to take my words and make them even more accessible as a graphic novel. 

I have begun.

Who am I?

Cover of 30 Short Bursts of Light
Cover of 30 Short Bursts of Light

My name is Jenelle Valentine Davenport (most call me Mrs. Davenport, Jenny, Mom or Grandmom), and I am a writer, a painter, a teacher, a baker of sweet potato pie, and I dream vivid dreams.

Having written and published since I was a child, this is the longest unfinished writing project of my life: The Mothers Grail.

More now than ever, it needs a voice. The story needs to be told and the imagery drawn up.

But again, after these long years, I am still a mom supporting my family and a teacher with dreams, selling pies to seek a different life past the classroom, creating and publishing from the margins.

And now, although I miss my students, I fear returning to the classroom too early in this time of COVID - but I probably must, unless I gain enough support to produce this book, to build a farm retreat & studio from which creativity can arise along with the sweet potatoes I hope to grow to sustain my sweet potato pie business that I hope will take me into my old age many years from now - that will turn me into that great-grandmother that leaves memories and dreams to my children.

I am raising funding in tiers. My first goal is $2,800 for equipment and supplies.  

I would like to purchase an Apple iPad Pro with accessories, new sketchbooks, and pencils and erasers with the first tier of funding:

My process is to illustrate an under-drawing, scan it in, and to complete each panel using, at the moment, a free version of Procreate that my artsy daughters taught me this past year.

Right now, I am borrowing my daughter's iPad when she isn't using it and when I can find time, and drawing on whatever old notebook my kids aren't using, using pencils I bought for my grandkids and students.

$2,800 will allow me to buy my own and to create in between teaching and building my pie business, which will mean the complete edition should be done within 18-24 months.

All supporters, however, in addition to their respective levels will get an art print mailed to them in the form of stickers or magnets, as well as monthly updates on progress and other bonus content.

More rewards for supporters at different levels include early chapter releases, bonus material, invitation to book launches, even inclusion of your name or image in a panel of the completed novel!

My process from drawing to scanning to color to panels.
My process from drawing to scanning to color to panels.

Stretch Goals:

Of course, my main goal is to have the time, equipment, and supplies to complete The Mothers Grail within the coming year, as well as other projects that come after it, including a graphic novel version of The Anansi Maze that is now on Amazon, as well as film, audiobook, and transmedia productions of other writing as well as curriculum that I would like to develop.

$10,000 - Post-COVID Re-Launch - relaunches my classic and gourmet sweet potato pie filling business which will help sustain my family. If we hit this, ALL SUPPORTERS will also be invited to an exclusive pre-holiday advance sale of my classic sweet potato pie filling and DIY crust for the Thanksgiving Holidays.

$75,000 - The Gift of Time - This will allow me to (1) put a down payment on a family farm & creative retreat, and (2) take a leave of absence so I can dedicate my time to illustrating the 80%-completed novel, raising sweet potatoes and making my pie filling, and sparking discussion and giving a voice to teachers and other creatives who are working to nurture our children of color. If we hit this, ALL SUPPORTERS will also receive a large at least 20' x 40" print of a choice of artwork from my novel.

$310,000 - Self-Sufficiency & STEM/Arts Retreat - This will allow me to (1) buy the 35-acres outright for our family farm and retreat, creating stability and self-sufficiency, (2) complete my graphic novel and work on other creative projects, and 3) purchase several Macbook Pros/PCs, Virtual & Augmented Reality, and equipment for a STEM/Arts collaborative project to gamify learning standards to engage our students with culturally-reflective, challenging content.

Who is on my Team?

Several of my six daughters are commissioned artists and one is a gifted techie who is researching Virtual Reality and its potential impact on social change (and I have one beautiful son as well still in high school). My girls teach me new digital art techniques, as well as tutorials.

My family is my strength, including my husband of 26 years, and including the memory of my grandmother, which motivates me every day.

I also have several colleagues from throughout the years, as well as former classmates from Princeton who are also as passionate and motivated as I who wish to collaborate of the ed tech STEM/STEAM projects. 

I also have a wide network of creative and techie entrepreneurs who for years have been dreaming in parallel about what we can do to attack the achievement gap and educational inequities.

Lastly, for my sweet potato pie business, here in Colorado, the Rocky Mountain Microfinance Institute (RMMFI) has been stalwart in its support and consulting.

I am so thankful for this opportunity to present this vision to you! 

I hope you will support me and allow me to share it with you, and I also hope you are touched by The Mothers Grail in ways that help affirm your belief that we are all sisters, regardless of race or creed or identification. Even the men.

- Jenelle Valentine Davenport

Pumpkins on Vacation by JV Davenport
Pumpkins on Vacation by JV Davenport

 

Updates

The Campaign FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Is the manuscript finished? Yes! The first draft is finished. I have already begun to illustrate the story, which brings new nuances, edits, and sequences to the story now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monetary Contribution

Just Because I Care

0 Supporters
Select this reward
5.00 USD
Original Postcard Love & My Thanks!

Thank you for your vote of confidence! 

Along with sending you an originally designed postcard in the mail, I'm sending you a Thank You Shout-out on social media (unless you wish to remain anonymous!)

Your love is much appreciated.

1000000 Left
0 Supporters
Select this reward
10.00 USD
Sticker & Magnet Art

Along with my sincere appreciation and a shout-out on social media, at this level you'll receive:

  • an art sticker- with original artwork - in the mail and
  • a monthly newsletter updating you on my progress!

Thank you so much!

1000000 Left
0 Supporters
Select this reward
25.00 USD
The Book Itself

Thank you!

Along with the previous level rewards, you will receive both the print and digital versions of "The Mothers Grail" upon publication.

I hope to see you in our Facebook discussions of the book's themes!

1000000 Left
0 Supporters
Select this reward
100.00 USD
Limited Edition Signed Canvas Art Print

Thank you for your belief in me!

I am painting a special oil painting in my Mother and Child Ethereum Series (the first one below unfinished) for supporters of this campaign and making large 24" x 30" canvas prints for each supporter at this level, with the original to be auctioned off exclusively with supporters having first rights of purchase.

Each Limited Edition Printed Canvas will be personally signed and accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.

Thank you so very much. 

275 Left
0 Supporters
Select this reward
1,000.00 USD
New Limited Edition Art + Invitation

Thank you so much for this amazing vote of support!

Along with a Limited Edition Signed Canvas Print (a different art print from the $100 level) and all other rewards including the Sister Comforts, I would personally like to invite you to Zoom with me for a while, and should we succeed in reaching the stretch goals and starting the farm, to perhaps come visit for a Retreat.

At the very least, if that happens, your name will forever be commemorated on a special wall reserved for those who believed in giving me a voice.

Thank you again from the bottom of my heart.

275 Left
0 Supporters
Select this reward

Rewards

Monetary Contribution

Just Because I Care

0 Supporters
Select this reward
5.00 USD
Original Postcard Love & My Thanks!

Thank you for your vote of confidence! 

Along with sending you an originally designed postcard in the mail, I'm sending you a Thank You Shout-out on social media (unless you wish to remain anonymous!)

Your love is much appreciated.

1000000 Left
0 Supporters
Select this reward
10.00 USD
Sticker & Magnet Art

Along with my sincere appreciation and a shout-out on social media, at this level you'll receive:

  • an art sticker- with original artwork - in the mail and
  • a monthly newsletter updating you on my progress!

Thank you so much!

1000000 Left
0 Supporters
Select this reward
25.00 USD
The Book Itself

Thank you!

Along with the previous level rewards, you will receive both the print and digital versions of "The Mothers Grail" upon publication.

I hope to see you in our Facebook discussions of the book's themes!

1000000 Left
0 Supporters
Select this reward
100.00 USD
Limited Edition Signed Canvas Art Print

Thank you for your belief in me!

I am painting a special oil painting in my Mother and Child Ethereum Series (the first one below unfinished) for supporters of this campaign and making large 24" x 30" canvas prints for each supporter at this level, with the original to be auctioned off exclusively with supporters having first rights of purchase.

Each Limited Edition Printed Canvas will be personally signed and accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.

Thank you so very much. 

275 Left
0 Supporters
Select this reward
1,000.00 USD
New Limited Edition Art + Invitation

Thank you so much for this amazing vote of support!

Along with a Limited Edition Signed Canvas Print (a different art print from the $100 level) and all other rewards including the Sister Comforts, I would personally like to invite you to Zoom with me for a while, and should we succeed in reaching the stretch goals and starting the farm, to perhaps come visit for a Retreat.

At the very least, if that happens, your name will forever be commemorated on a special wall reserved for those who believed in giving me a voice.

Thank you again from the bottom of my heart.

275 Left
0 Supporters
Select this reward