“A year ago I quit my job as a ceramics professor at The Evergreen State College to pursue my art career full time. My calling in life is to make art that addresses how racism lives in our bodies, honor Black life, and practice ancestral healing/connection through my art practice. Since I quit, I have produced my first bronze piece. I’ve had a life-sized sculpture of a Black woman titled Woman with Graves at Her Back accepted to a public art call and will be on display for a year starting June 2021, and I was approached to be in a book about 40 contemporary Black clay artists. I am working on a piece with the working title Boat of Hands. The piece is made up of hands that are cast from my dad, mom, son and myself. Mossy sticks/branches will extend out from the wrists. The whole piece will take on the shape of a boat and be big enough for an adult person to curl up inside.
I want to communicate the intergenerational and ancestral need for being held in this moment. The branches connect us to our non-human ancestors and invite us to be held by them too. Behind the boat, I plan to have a drawing of a Big Leaf Maple tree that is nearly life sized. I want the tree to feel like it is enveloping and supporting you too so my hope is to find a venue where the tree can go across the ceiling and maybe even have the tops of the branches come downward toward the floor on the opposite wall. Clay samaras (those Maple seeds that spin when they fall) will be hanging down above the Boat of Hands, seeding new generations. My work honors Black life, and seeks to bring forth ways to heal, be held, and connect.”
“Much of my work explores the physical vulnerability of Black bodies, particularly femme-identifying people and children. Beginning in 2012, the murder of Trayvon Martin (and later, Tamir Rice) compelled me to express my outrage and anxiety over the racist beliefs that ended children’s lives. Sandra Bland’s death reawakened my knowledge that police kill Black women at a far higher rate than white women — a realization that dawned on me when my first pregnancy limited my mobility. Both “Rare & Exquisite (Washington)” and “They Don’t Really Feel Pain” are direct commentaries on the vulnerability of Black bodies in the public sphere, no matter their size or skin tone.
The assemblage sculpture also addresses willful ignorance of how common it is for people of color to experience racially-motivated violence. I explore this second point in collages on paper as well, including “The Blacks, They See Racism in Everything.” My work centering Black femmes focuses on more subtle threats of violence. The leering men in the altered book “You Got What I Need” suggest an impending sexual assault on a Black woman. In addition, racist text and the presence of certain flowers make reference to stereotypes about Black female sexuality and identity.”
“My existing artwork supports Black Lives Matter (BLM) by amplifying the reality, dignity and presence of Black culture, creativity, and our collective historic and contemporary intelligence. The movement of BLM albeit a powerful action of this time, is the result of continued societal neglect, dismissive hatred, systemic racism, murder and proven documented oppression and destruction of Black people. My existing artwork, exposes, educates, elevates, acknowledges and articulates the narrative of Black thought and the healing, the hope, and the courage to never forget our history, in order to find the path to forgive, and the presence of mind to forge a new mindset.
My art supports Black Lives because they have always mattered, not just to me because I am Black but because they are valued, valuable, human, and worth it. As I have been influenced, educated and exposed to many Black Lives that have come before me and that are with me now, my art supports BLM by contributing to those Black Lives who are with me in times of need, and for those will come after me. My art is for my children, my students, my family, my community and for any person willing to accept and embrace my life and those lives like mine as equal and treasured as their own. I create and produce art that empowers my audience to the message of unified humanity over race but due to racial barriers, I am compelled to edify anyone with my art about my race if it can bring forth an awareness of our shared humanity.”
“My artwork has always been centered on the juxtaposition of social commentary wrapped in a tapestry of beautiful imagery. To this end, l want to draw the viewer into the power of the content that is delivered by a visual dynamic of intrigue and curiosity. As a multi-media artist, I have engaged various artforms to explore the persistence of racism and ignorance in our society. I also have spent a great deal of time visually investigating the relevance of ART to address these injustices. I find we are vital members in the ongoing struggle that gives voice and guidance to our fellow citizens.
My current body of work is a series of Collages that addresses violence towards women and girls, people of color and its endless stream of social apathy. I offer this work as a testament to both my style and import. A series l have wanted to proceed with is called: EMANCIPATION PAPERS. This new body of work will be large mixed media artwork that are CONSTRUCTIONS OF PEOPLE MADE FROM PAPER WITH COLLAGE ELEMENTS. These are figures that can be from history and current events. I am not looking to memorialize any one person but to use these paper figure wall hangings to illustrate the dynamics of a free people in motion.”
“My personal connection to BLM is being a proud Black man who has love and concern for the Black community. As the parent of two sons I have more than a vested interest in seeing a solution to the present-day value (s) associated with law enforcement and the Black community. “Enough” is the self-explanatory position of Black Americans in relation to police brutality. Thankfully, this is a plea for equality and justice as opposed to a call for retaliation. Surprisingly and seemingly some do not understand our plight. “Enough” represents those who were “called” to the streets to let their “voices” be heard and presence be felt.
“I Am Human” was inspired by a poem of the same title by former Seattle Seahawk Gregory Johnson. The image shows the power, vulnerability and beauty of our humanity. It’s a reflection of togetherness and hope.”
“As a black woman who has lost family members to violence, I feel compelled to use my artistic talents to memorialize black people. I began painting a series of egg tempera memorial icons of murdered BIPOC in the Byzantine icon style. After Trayvon Martin’s murder in 2012, I donated the icon I painted of him to the family’s foundation. In 2017, I completed a temporary public art project in West Seattle for the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture.
I installed life-size aluminum photo decals on bridge pillars and in front of a music studio called, “Black Teen Wearing Hoodie“. My teenage son was the model. I photographed him reading a book or playing an instrument. It is in remembrance of the 5-year anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s tragic murder and a reminder that black kids in hoodies are just kids. After that first set of installations, I’ve had photo mural requests from various organizations, including Photo Center Northwest, Africatown, Pratt Art Center and The Frye Museum of Art. This year my son and I also painted two letters in West Seattle’s Black Lives Matter Street mural. As an African American, I am very interested in projects that commemorate the black experience.”
“I always knew that BLACK LIVES MATTER. I always knew that my life mattered. Maybe that’s because I was raised in a Black community by a single mother and extended family with strong women and strong men. It was only in my high school years delivering proofs to national corporate offices in Chicago’s million dollar mile that I asked the question “It’s not does my life matter but how much does my life matter?”. Then I begin to think “How can I add value?
For this exhibition, I want to build an interactive exhibit with online discussion. The exhibition will consist of 4 ft x 5 ft mixed media panels on canvas and/or masonite: Graphic panel: BLACK LIVES MATTER Introduction panel: artist statement (why I think black lives matter) Five 4 ft x 5 ft color and graphic panels. Mixed media: photography, digital imaging, acrylic paint. Iconic portraits of unsung people who have struggled or are fighting to make Black Lives Matter. Panel that states what I think it will take for Black people’s lives to matter. An interactive website where a discussion leading to strategic planning and actions of how to make Black Lives Matter will be connected to the exhibit by QR codes. This project will allow a cultural bridge between the social justice and the art communities.”
“I have a photography degree from Spokane Falls Community College and currently show artwork locally and nationally.
In 2018, there was an open house at a gallery where my studio was located. I named this series “We Hear You” as it is sometimes a response to the statement “I Can’t Breathe.” The day after George Floyd’s death, I had a vision over and over of my friend wrapped in police tape, there needed to be a photo. Then I made five photos. The Statue of Liberty, The Lady Justice, Abraham Lincoln, Madonna, and Saint Sebastian.
What the figures or archetypes stand for are connected in the unwillingness to see Black Lives as equal. Lincoln didn’t have reverence for Black Lives. Lady Justice represents the twisted judicial system where police commit murder and often do not receive justice. The Statue of Liberty definitely promised the American dream but was it the same dream that was promised to ancestors who came here by choice? Are we supposed to believe in liberty or justice for all in this America, even in the man who heroically abolished slavery? It seemed appropriate that the Madonna was represented as well as Saint Sebastian since the nature of these archetypes is so explicit in imagery we see on a daily basis. These photos are my effort to try to see something clearly that I may have missed, and to ask others if maybe they heard about police brutality and watched it on TV but didn’t actually see it, or turned down the volume on the voices gasping ‘I can’t breathe’.”
“As a fiber artist, I create stories from fabric in wall hangings and quilts. There is no more satisfying accomplishment that having a student wrap themselves in a quilt of love as they are attending colleges across the country. I have extended this personal support in submissions to Sacred Threads, National African American Quilt Convention and “We Are the Story” multi-site quilt exhibition presented by Textile Center & Women of color Quilters Network in Minneapolis MN, with exhibits honoring the life of George Floyd. Born in the historically African American Central District and educated in underfunded public schools. Participated in local marches, local and national elections, member of the City of Seattle Impact 2020 Forum, Neighborhood Block Watch Captain (Central District – AA community), and I’m a 60+ AA Female.
I can’t dismiss that my life matters, because I was born a Negro, elevated to Black and co-opted to be a hyphenated African American. I am part of a small guild here in Seattle that I would solicit to participate in the creation of this work, and a number of places where I would pitch our work. Northwest African American Museum and Gallery ONYX are foremost as they were created to highlight art created by those from the African diaspora. The City of Seattle also has a office of Arts and Cultures that is a potential partner as well as LANGSTON whose purpose is to cultivate Black art and Black artist.”
Spokane Valley, WA
“A lot of people don’t know that streamers exist, and I wanted to raise awareness on how you can be a witness with them. I screen recorded good, bad, and weird moments. Anything that made me think of a Facebook emoji, I archived. I wanted to involve people, to educate on resources that are a button away. There are more ways to know “what the streets are saying” and they come from people living it. I dedicated at least 80 nights in a row watching live streams from the major cities. A constant back-and-forth but worth seeing how ALL communities reacted to injustices.
I later created a mash up of the chaos I saw on my phone, into a video called HELLO-trailer. Seeing this LOUD message from black voices everywhere shocked me. You couldn’t NOT see it. I have a social media virtual participation project in mind. Not too long ago, police departments did the lip-sync challenge that went viral. Part 1, clips of the same police departments enforcing indiscriminate police brutality to the same communities they proudly represented. Part 2, Gather participants from people I know locally, and people from other states and countries. “The challenge”: see if participants can recall the PSA announcements from the police right before they use excessive force. I’m curious as a social experiment to see how ingrained these PSA’s are in our minds. The people who choose to participate could either use audio or a video clip with a possible hashtag to categorize them somewhere on social media for me to compile. It’s a floating idea.”
“I’ve been working primarily in mosaic for 20 years, and began creating detailed photorealistic portraits in 2011. My public projects are installed throughout the U.S. and many are concentrated in the Pacific NW. I’ve created public art for the Cities of Olympia, Bellingham, Auburn and Port Orchard, and I installed a project in Tigard, OR in June. Between architectural commissions, I sometimes create portable works for gallery exhibition, many of which draw attention to the person represented in stained glass. One such portrait features Edmonia Lewis, an overlooked African-Native American sculptor, and is in the City of Seattle’s permanent collection.
A brand new portrait depicts Breonna Taylor and will be on exhibit this fall in a Port Townsend gallery. My proposed project is a stained glass mosaic portrait of Thelma and Nat Jackson. The portrait would be executed in hand-cut stained glass onto a thin, weatherproof tile board substrate that can be framed for display in the gallery exhibition, and later permanently installed as public art in an approved location in Olympia or Lacey. Nat and Thelma moved from Louisiana to Washington State in 1968 as young professionals and activists. Nat, the great-grandson of slaves, was an entrepreneur and aide to Governor Dan Evans. Thelma was a biochemist, educator and activist. The couple settled in Lacey, a suburb of Olympia, and have dedicated their lives to promoting social justice. Mr. and Mrs. Jackson are now in their 70s, still living and working in Olympia. In fact, Nat Jackson is known as the “Jump Rope King” and as of 2018, held a jump-roping record! Mosaic is painstaking, and it will take me several months to complete a quality mosaic worthy of their legacy. The completed mosaic would be available for the 2021 exhibit.”
Mount Vernon, WA
“I received a BA from Duke University and an MFA in Painting at UT-Austin. I am currently Professor of Painting and Drawing at Western Washington University, and I also teach the interdisciplinary courses Art & Ecology and Figure & Symbol. In my current work I am painting swampy, underwater scenes. Each of them layers symbols of white supremacy with trashed machinery and flora and fauna. While bearing the emblems of specific places, the paintings are loose and mythical in their associations.
Before white settlers deforested and drained them, swamps were the hunting grounds and medicine chests of indigenous people. During slavery they were the refuges and escape routes of “maroons”. From a certain point of view, the abject history of this country, its wealth borne of genocide and slavery, its continuing racism, violence and inequality, is a murky underworld that we want to put behind us. From another, forgetfulness is a privilege; the muck of the past is still with us; transformation is not possible without unearthing the truth. I acknowledge my position as the inheritor of white privilege. However, as many black activists have noted, it’s time for white people to do the work of anti-racism. I see these paintings themselves – layered and complicated as they are – as forms of activism, but only if they can be seen, only if they can enter the conversation.”
“I started with nothing, homeless and never allowed my artistic passion to fade away. I continued to do art and humbly show my work to those close to me and in the environments I was in and it has lead me to doing my very own exhibit at Seattle Central’s M.Hunter Rosetta gallery. I also now have art at the Onyx Gallery in Seattle as well. A dream is good fuel to encourage the actions needed to achieve. I am a black man in America. I have been incarcerated for over a decade. I’ve experienced every type of situation that are now being slowly exposed to society but has been going on since America’s inception. I’m thankful to still be alive and must continue the fight for equality. Some of us have been oppressed for so long that it’s unknowingly inflicted permanent trauma.
Art is a positive outlet for me. I would like to do more creative spontaneous realism on a large scale of our leaders who speak for those who have no voice and those who will come after us like the piece of John Lewis I just created. I would like to do a collection of these works and complement it with a mural after words. I honestly feel like most artists, art blessed with the gift to create visually (such as myself) and that case allows the body of work to speak for itself.”
“As a Black woman, I’ve experienced racism regarding my height, hair, and existence. I question why I can’t drive into a neighborhood and just walk there like my white friends do, instead of being targeted, as I’ve been, as an intruder. I wear loose clothes, but have been propositioned nonetheless, I believe, because I am black and therefore seen as “easy.” My fiancé and I are considering having children. Will I fear for their safety every day? Black Lives Matter has greatly shaped and informed my thinking about institutionalized racism that is prevalent in every aspect of our society. Every day I talk with my coworkers, friends, family, and even strangers about what I’ve learned from Black Lives Matters to raise awareness of the blinders regarding systemic racism that politicians and companies keep so firmly in place. Black Lives Matter has really taught me about the inequities for Blacks in having access to good health care, affordable housing, dignified work, equitable education, and the right to live safely and with dignity.
I am committed to supporting and promoting the promise and possibility of Black lives through my art. My proposal is called What We See and will include four artworks directly relevant to Black Lives Matter. I will complete four paintings of Black people, each with a specific theme. My canvases will be denim jackets because denim connotes durability and strength even when distressed. The jackets symbolize protection from the coldness of systems that marginalize Blacks, and these specific jackets provide the warmth and community of Black faces. I will paint four jackets, one person on the back of each jacket and his or her connections to Black Lives Matter themes on the front. I’ll paint two Black females and two Black males, showing different aspects of the Black struggle and shaping of the future. The jackets will be different sizes to connote a range of ages in the Black Lives Matter movement.”
“The piece I am creating will be titled: “LIEabilities“. This is a short documentary that explores the current state of division in America that was influenced by obstruction of the truth, amplifying the Black Lives Matter movement as well as the alt-right that has affected people from all sides of the divide. What happens when people are divided by class, race, gender, sexual preference or other differences is the question we seek to answer as America is at the tipping point of change. The conversation will explore some solutions to overcome these problems including the need to vote and unite the country. In the spring of 2020, George Floyd was killed amplifying the BLM movement. Seattle, like many other cities across the nation, held ongoing protests. Seattle’s protests resulted in a controversial take-over of a popular neighborhood called the CHOP. This film includes first-hand accounts of these events and how disinformation has helped fuel division nationwide.
Seattle has a long history with division. The most recent developments where entire communities have been displaced due to the expansion of the tech sector. South Seattle is currently facing gentrification, which affects a majority of people of color. Most of the speakers will be residents of South Seattle or have intimate connections to it. Those who are interviewed are expected to comment with non-biased, educated responses derived from their own experience. We will also examine how the Alt right is using a presupposing narrative leading to election wins. Director Derek Johnson will be engaging in conversations with people who are the conversational stakeholders in his diverse, local network of South Seattle. Derek has been a lifelong activist involving civil rights policies for BIPOC people residing in America. Derek will reflect on his own observations from past events and weave them into the conversation of the current social climate inside America. The expected runtime of this film is 15-20 minutes, it will be released online for free, and will include weekly and nightly discussions around the topic of division.”
South Seattle, WA
“I have been an artist all my life and create to empower and inspire black women to be comfortable and confident in their own skin. I have had multiple articles written about me, and was also commissioned by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to work on artwork with themes that fit my role and mission as an artist. As well, I was nominated as a Changemaker, by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. As a Black Woman with sickle cell anemia living in the time of a pandemic, I have been working hard to finding new ways to support and contribute to the Black Lives Matter Movement. It hurts my heart to not be able to protest on the front lines with everyone else. However, I’ve been creating art, signing petitions, and donating like crazy. Doing anything and everything I can do to help support safely.
I have one piece entitled “Say Her Name,” made to call attention to the fact the Breonna Taylor’s murders are still free. The piece featured a black woman with a large Afro covering her eyes. Her fist was raised and a mandala was emerging from it to show how powerful a raised fist can be. I created another piece entitled, “Fed Up” which featured a black man with his head tilted up and his fists clenched horizontally. His mouth open to release a scream. This piece was more focused on the emotions I felt in that/this period of time. I would love to work on more pieces or even expand this series to further help contribute to the movement.”
“I have been a member of Onyx Arts Collective since 2015. Since then I have participated I several exhibitions-most of which center around African American art. I’ve also have two solo exhibition and recently participate in two online showings. 2015 Harborview Medical Center Solo Exhibition (Main Dining Hall) 2017 Renton Vocational Collage. Solo Exhibition (Dining Hall) 2019 Onyx Fine Arts Collective 2018 Book Launch (Cover Art) 2020 Onyx Fine Art April 2019 Reopening Reception 2nd prize winner (Best in show) 2020 CoCA Gallery Exhibit September-October 10th. WHAT STORY WOULD THE UNINTENDED BENEFICIARIES TELL (WSWUBT) 2020 Seattle Refine Online exhibit Artist of the Week.
Recently I donated a painting “First Lady of Soul” this was done in connection with members of the West Seattle Art Walk/West Seattle Arts Council to raise money and awareness for BLM movement. This painting is being auctioned online. I like to think that my artwork comes from a unique perspective by offering more than one point of view of traditional African American Art. It illustrates how people are more alike than different and how beauty is as much a part of the Black experience as so many recent tragedies that have come to define everyday life.”
“My recent community involvement projects include: co-facilitating a workshop for primary and secondary educators in Northeast Washington on integrating art and literacy into their curriculum, working with Spokane Public Schools to teach art therapy to elementary school students, serving as a judge for the Northeast Washington Educational Service Districts’ 2017 and 2018 Regional High School Art Show competitions and appointment to the 2020 Spokane Arts Awards committee. My mixed media peice, “My Rose of the World,” inspired by Toni Morrison’s novel, “Sula,” was recently purchased by the Washington Arts Commission for its State Arts Collection of public art.
Through mixed media art, I examine Black American identity and melding literary imagery with visual art. In alignment with the Black Lives Matter movement, my work exemplifies Black imagination and innovation, the celebration of Black joy and intentionally ignites a dialogue amongst viewers on what it means to be Black in America. My recent series, “To Shalimar,” pays homage to the literary greatness of Nobel Prize-winning author, Toni Morrison and Morrison’s famous novels, “The Bluest Eye,” “Sula,” “Song of Solomon,” and “Beloved” while examining identity, trauma, self-love, sisterhood and beauty in relation to the Black American experience.”
“I have been a lifelong Black artist, despite the odds. I have been influenced by my black community. I have always enjoyed engaging with people in the communities I live within. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has exposed injustices that I, as a Black artist, have faced. BLM is forging an upward pathway for me and many other Black artists, so we have the opportunity to share, present and celebrate our artistic talents. I would like to create a series of work highlighting the emotions, feeling and impact of the BLM movement has provoked. With my art being inspired by my life, history, culture, community and current events. I want this work to shine light on the inequalities, pain and struggles my community has faced throughout time juxtaposed with joy, nurturing, love and celebration. I want people to recognize that even though I’m Black, my artistic talents are multifaceted. Like any other culture, we have a story to tell.
“Rose Up” (2019) represents the struggles of being an African American male in the United States, and how we’re viewed by some. It’s a play on history. The art challenges you to question whether he is a slave in a cotton field or whether he is strolling through a rose garden. It challenges you to question your own biases. This piece was featured in Onyx Gallery.”
“Make It Plain” was my first body of artwork from over ten years ago, explaining the need for the Black church and Black self-love using American history. “Make It Plain: Part 2” extends this idea further and was originally in the works as a response to living in Richmond Virginia and studying confederate history for three months. This body of work is connected to Black Lives Matter, not because it is a hashtag or a movement in the news, but because it is about my life. My life matters. My life matters!!
My art exhibition walks people though the dark origins of our country and forces the viewer to sit in the horrors and evils that we have committed against each other in the US. It begins by showing the Biblical creation story and the fall (where Christians believe evil came from). By beginning this way, I am communicating to Christians that there is no excuse to ignore Black history any longer. The next few pieces encouraging mourning in front of 230 nooses representing those lynched in the years 1892, outlining the origins of the Klan, and asking the question “how many nooses are in your family tree?” Next, we follow through some heroes of African American culture, including my biological father who was murdered by the KKK when I was 8. Finally, the protest posters respond to what is happening today.”
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Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art WSU
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Washington State University
Pullman, WA 99164