Tuesday, June 13, 2006
the Black Artist today
What is it that Black Artist are by and large about portraying black people in art. It is as if there is some unwritten law that says a Black Artist must be about black people in painting and sculpture. This is not only what is promoted by those who display and sale black art, this is also what is expected by the people who view and buy black art. This appears to be a response to years of being portrayed by other people in caricature and other undignified ways. But also notice this has gone way beyond accurate portrayals as black faces have appeared in the Euro/American icons, the Madonna and child and also Christ himself as well. I guess if you can paint the world over in your own world view, you can rewrite that part of history that pertains to you. I think the problem in art today is that Black Artist are held hostage by lack of exposure and by what is expected of them. Just like in music the black past is overplayed to the point that the Harlem Renaissance is the peak of black culture and all progress is expected to emerge out from that. Yet jazz itself happened in different places at the same time. So in art we are continually compared to that Harlem Renaissance standard as if nothing has happened since then. But in reality there is a bumper crop of Black Artist who portray black people in various modes of their black lives. I believe that the Black Artist is doing what is popular and also doing what is expected in the realm of art. I also believe that in spite of the progress made Black Artist are held hostage by the thing they are doing and need to be liberated into other design fields until the implements of life bare their mark. Maybe a new arts movement or school of thought will expand the range of the Black Artist in the future.