Along with the new paintings, I will make available posters and prints of the old paintings. Each piece will be accompnaied by the story fo the woman in it, making this event a history lesson as well as an art show. Opening night is October 7, 2017 and the paintings will be hanging up the entire months of October and November. So come to Cofffee at The Point from 6-10 pm. I look forward to seeing you there.
In the 1980s, Toni Morrison had been going through the recorded history of slavery and came across something that disturbed her. Ina newspaper clipping about runaway slaves was the story of a woman who did the unthinkable. When it was clear that she would be captured, she killed her own child. She said that she would rather see the child dead than watch it grow up as a slave. This story had a profound effect on Morrison. Her obsession with this tale developed into the novel Beloved.
In Beloved, an escaped slave woman tries to kill herself and her two children rather than return to slavery. One child dies, but the woman and the other child survive. Years later, they are living free lives when the ghost of the dead baby comes to stay. She arrives in the form of a teenaged girl and it is some time before her true identity is discovered. Published in 1988, Beloved won Toni Morrison the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. No African American woman had ever won a Pulitzer before.
In 1993, Toni Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Again, she was the first African American Woman to win this prestigious award. At the podium, she said “I felt I represented a whole world of women who either were silenced or had never received the imprimatur of the established literary world…. It was very important for young Black people to see a Black person [succeed]…. Seeing me up there might encourage them to write one of those books I’m desperate to read. And that made me happy.”
I have to agree with her there. The term role model exists to describe someone who can show us how to be in the world. These people serve as examples of the kind of person we can become. it is vitally important for children (and adults) to have examples they can relate to. When you relate to someone, you can imagine yourself becoming as great as they are, as famous as they are, as wealthy as they are. Growing up, I did not have any role models with whom I could relate. I did not have a famous Black female artist to look up to, so I cherry picked and cobbled together my own vision of who I wanted to become.
Women Behaving Badly exists for those women and girls who wish to relate to their role models. For them, I have reached back into time to find the Great Dames of the past. These women went off the beaten path so that we would follow in their footsteps.
When I was in school, I did not do well in history class. I mean, I did well enough to pass, but I didn’t get why we needed the course. It was all names and dates of people and places that seemed to have no relevance to my life. Now that I’m older, I see that we do a disservice to students when we make history boring. The fact is, history is full of STORIES. Everybody loves stories. If that weren’t true, there is no way the movie, television and gaming industries would be as big as they are today.
In recent years, I have learned more history in story form. I started out with historical fiction, stories of fake people set in real places, times and events. Those led me to look for stories of real people in history. Not only have these stories been interesting in their own right, they have finally become relevant. Learning the history of Women’s Suffrage has helped me appreciate my right to vote and to participate in political discourse. Those women fought long and hard (over 100 years) to have their voices heard. I owe it to them to take part.
Learning the history of the Civil Rights Movement makes me appreciate the fact that I am a full citizen in this country and am mostly treated as such. I was born well after the era of fire hoses and lynchings. It also reminds me not to accept injustice when it is directed at me or at others. History has taught me the vital role allies play in righting wrongs and in moving us toward progress and equality. Those who have inherent power should use it to help level the playing field for others. Those of us seeking that equality should accept help when it’s offered. Progress does not happen only by the efforts of the few, but by the efforts of the many.
In my series, Women Behaving Badly, I seek to answer three questions about each woman I depict: Who is She? What did She do? Why does She matter? To me, that last question is the most important and is what was missing from my history lessons all those years ago. Why should I care? Because it is all connected. It’s the butterfly effect. Seemingly small events and decisions from the past reverberating throughout the present and the future. Answering that question over and over again has given me new insight into the world around me. It has also made me more curious than ever before.
There has been a lot of horribleness in the news lately. There have been shootings, bombs, vehicular homicides…. The amount of violence, especially in places long considered safe has been overwhelming. The thing that hits us the hardest, though, is the undercurrent of racism and bigotry that has risen to the surface.
Many people are shocked that not only do these ideas persist, but that they are so strongly held. They can’t understand how, in a world that is so connected that one group can so hate another that they would call for a shutdown of their rights. And indiscriminately cause their deaths. It is enraging to watch it all happen. And it is frightening to be a member of not one, but several of the groups being targeted.
I am a Black, queer woman who is part of a mixed race couple. This doesn’t feel like a safe climate for me and my wife. There are those around me, ready to take up arms, to do battle. They are on the front lines at protests. They send calls to action to the powers that be, beseeching them to do the right thing and pass legislation to combat what feels like the rising tide of hatred and bigotry. These are the warriors, and we need them.
Five years in the Marine Corps have taught me that I am no warrior. I am an artist, a creator. As such, direct confrontation doesn’t work for me. My medium is subversion. I want to make people think, to reconsider their positions. Tell a person they are wrong, and they get instantly defensive. Tell a person a story, and they cannot help but look for themselves in that story.
I started to tell the stories of women from all races, nationalities, and walks of life through my series Women Behaving Badly. I want people to see themselves in those stories, to consider how they may be like those women, and think differently about women in general. Originally, I aimed these stories and this art at women and girls. I wanted to inspire them to be more than they thought they could be. Now, I see that these pieces can become a vehicle to combat an ideology that puts people into a box with an incorrect label in order to stop them being their full selves.
To quote the Netflix series The Get Down, “when you know better/ then you gotta do better/ each one teach one/ come together”. Warriors, stay on the front lines, we need you there. But, if like me, you know you don’t fit in a the front, we still need your help. Spread art, spread knowledge, spread the stories that tell of our mutual humanity. Reach out with your heart.
African Americans have made some crucial contributions to art and culture. The Colorado Black Arts Festival is proof. Live African drum and bass, blues, gospel, jazz, hip-hop, reggae, soul and world beat music fills the air. Multiple mediums, from fiber to photography, are displayed by notable and up and coming African American artists. Might want to have an appetite when you come, it’ll be tough to walk past the food court without stopping.
Despite how we are portrayed in movies, we artists do not exist inside a vacuum. Often, we are surrounded by other creative individuals whose work inspires and encourages us to be our greater selves. We discuss concepts, techniques, and tools. We critique each other’s work. Artists have the ability to look at styles completely different from our own and have those styles inform how we approach our newest project.
I have long been a lover of comic books. I see them as the perfect marriage of the written word and the image. A beginner in the art of sequential storytelling myself, I am intrigued by those who are able to blend story and art so seamlessly. I have recently joined a group of such individuals who create comics and graphic novels. Their tales range from sci-fi to slice of life, fantastical to personal.
And then there’s Urban Arkanum. When the owner and founder Anubis Heru-Cole and I met, he was pushing his clothing line: ancient Egyptian symbols emblazoned in gold and silver on t-shirts and hoodies. As we got to know one another, he shared with me his plans to write a graphic novel. It would be an Afrocentric fantasy story about kings and gods. Of course, I was intrigued. This is not the kind of story I usually come across in my perusal of bookstores and comic shops.
The world is falling apart. A massive horde of genetically engineered creatures systematically stalk and terrorize the people of the planet. Their only aim seemingly, to hunt and kill every last hue-man. Fortunately the powerful Kingdom of Avaris has the military might to thwart this evil menace. But there is more at stake, environmental weather anomalies have begun to surface and cause substantial damage to the planet. A young prince and three unlikely heroes must join together to find an ancient artifact that can bring balance back to their world. In the midst of conflict and danger lurking around every turn, will they find the artifact in time?
Don’t miss the action packed Sci-fi/Fantasy Acid of the Godz, created by Anubis Heru and Theo Wilson. Comic book Illustrated by Ryan Best.