Hidden Figures

The Making of a Cover

By Jocelyn Foster Tatum

Rambo Elliott knew almost right away who she wanted to illustrate her story on our cover, and I was dying to know who this big-souled creative genius was going to pick. When she named Fort Worth photographer and international luminary Letitia Huckaby for the project, we all wondered if we could get this artistic giant to illustrate our cover, with all she has going on.

“Letitia is a living legend; it’s an absolute honor to have her photograph me,” Rambo says. 

Letitia has work in the Library of Congress collection and shows her work everywhere, from Galveston to California, Philadelphia, New York City, New Orleans and to Ireland and Vienna, Austria.

Letitia’s process requires heirloom fabrics that create nostalgia in those who experience the art. It brings them back to their childhood or simpler times when maybe visiting grandmother for Sunday dinner or a sleepover. 

“It is a style I have been using already in my work,” Letitia says about the cover. “It’s kind of a silhouette where you can almost see the figure, and it is a style that was inspired by old feed sacks that sugar and flour would come in.” The feed sacks would arrive in these beautiful patterns, and women would repurpose the sacks to make clothing and different things for the house. 

“With Rambo, she’s definitely a Southern girl, but she’s a glamorous Southern girl, if you will, a little bit mysterious until you get to know her, and then she really opens up,” Letitia says. “And so, I thought it would be nice to photograph her in that kind of style where everything is hidden, but you get little glimpses of her personality in this image.” 

At the photo shoot, Rambo saw a sheet patterned with memories that took her right back to 30 years ago in Arkansas, but it was too dark for them to use for this project. So, they worked together to pick the sheet — Letitia using her knowledge of what would work artistically and what would carry meaning and reflect Rambo, and Rambo picking what appealed to her as well that was reminiscent of her, delicate and feminine. It is a white sheet with little flowers. “I use that as the surface for the silhouette, so it is kind of like a nod to the past a little bit, and the cool thing is that when she was over here, she saw a bed sheet that reminded her of one from when she was a kid. So, these patterns have a kind of a nostalgia behind them,” Letitia says. 

“In this space, we will return to ourselves,” a statement at the Kinfolk House, a new collaborative art space that Letitia and her husband, Sedrick, opened a few months ago to uplift the art culture in Fort Worth’s Polytechnic neighborhood. It’s also something both Rambo and Letitia live by when practicing their craft. 

So, when Rambo walked into the photo shoot with gifts — lipstick, a dress and a card game — it was business as usual. She has this charming Southern habit of showing up to places with thoughtful gifts. Rambo also put on some music. It was a production maybe, a habit Rambo formed as a little girl to make experiences fun and pretty, and with a drive to entertain reminiscent of that trunk full of recital costumes (you need to read Rambo’s story to know). “She was thinking about the experience even though I was the one working,” Letitia says. It became an experience allowing them both to return to themselves. 

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