Just as it was for Nola Darling, as an is for me.

A European art buyer/collector will likely tell you that your portraiture and/or studies of contemporary Black people in every day settings, that is not overtly attached to historical symbolism or past and present suffering and conflicts, IS NOT SIGNIFICANT, HAS NO REAL MEANING, CONVEYS NO MESSAGE...


It's that they have not reconciled how they will explain to pretentious "judges" of their purchase/commission that they paid for the artwork above their mantle or sofa simply because they thought the Black woman or Black Man you painted was exquisite...because the subject is beautiful. It is difficult for most of them to reconcile that they sat and marveled at complexions and features that cannot be associated with their own. As that buyer, how do you explain that when you know they won't "get it", if you've ever even felt it? Not my problem, it's theirs, if they're human enough to rise to the challenge. The flip side of that coin - they may have willfully or subconsciously lived their lives discriminating against that very beauty in the most common of circumstances, and can now only admit to finding that same beauty fascinating and acceptable provided it's been "co-signed" as having value because the subject is depicted in a way and setting that will make the buyer and the viewers comfortable.

I have no tolerance for a critic who needs me to make up a fabricated, convoluted and prepared statement about my process, or the "deeper meaning" for a piece that I have created and am proud of from the simplest inspiration which, for me, usually amounts to "Because I felt it was someone I needed to draw/paint...I saw something there". Hypothetical round of the most pretentious, validation seeking, testing of your mettle line of questioning you may one day be subjected to when they can't process your explanation of the simplicity of your inspiration: What can I learn from this piece? You can, maybe, learn to be honest enough with yourself to admit that you like this painting of this Black woman for the same reason you liked the look of your wife, or husband upon first seeing them - because they were attractive, because something made you want to be closer to them, because they pleased your eyes before you knew a name, before you saw a family tree, before you could hope that they somehow contributed to an important moment in history. What message is being conveyed? That she is delicate and powerful simultaneously because her features dance with each other and you felt the rhythm the moment you saw her. How does she fit into the look of this exhibition? She fits because you're looking...because you're asking me about her right now. Because, baby, if there was nothing to her, you would have walked on know it, and I know it.

Artists, do your one is qualified to tell you how it should be done. Black always has and always will look spectacular in any setting.

For me, the significance, the meaning and the message is US...exactly as we are in whatever setting or circumstance that I'm inspired to depict.

Stop allowing them to make you feel that Black must always be Black in conjunction with their allotted purpose for us. Black is out here Blacking just because it does, and can...I want to capture all of it. And I will.

LATE HOUR INCLUSION FROM A COMMENT I WROTE: "Mona Lisa was simply, someone's wife, NOT A QUEEN, NOT A COUNTESS, NOT A DUCHESS, NOT A MEMBER OF THE ROYAL COURT, NOT AN ACTIVIST - simply a woman, made universally intriguing only because a renowned artist saw beauty in her and decided to capture her. This is my cousin, Raven, and this artist decided that she needed to be captured BECAUSE she was intriguing....I stared at her delicate features as she fixed a plate of food at the family gathering...the earrings, the makeup, the exaggeration of her hairstyle to include colors - my vision of her - having seen past what she will tell you she's never seen. It was the first time I heard her refer to herself as "beautiful", as in "you really think I'm beautiful, like that?" and I knew then that this was one of the most important pieces I've created. What do you think would happen to a western perspective art critic telling me that she is of no significance, that she doesn't fit, that there is no story to her? I think you know."

1 comment


This is so true about our art. We need to set the standards for our excellence.

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