Back in November of last year I was walking through our local library. I noticed original art of a surprisingly ethnic type, on display. There were some rappers, a black Jesus and other pieces. They were well done, just seemingly out-of-place. But it hit me, why shouldn’t my art be in a display case too?
I went to the information desk to find out who was in charge of the showcases. I was directed upstairs to a large office with lots of…books…everywhere. As I waited for the nimble office dweller, I thought about my art. Sometimes it feels as if African-American artists are required to do “ethnic art.” As I look online and in galleries for black artists, I see tribal influenced works, urban scenes, musical and erotic pieces. They are often bold, exaggerated or colorful.
I’m not sure my stuff really fits into any of those categories. Actually, if you didn’t know I was African-American, would my art tell you? Should it? Well, I’ve always seen my race and culture as just two of the factors that define me, not even the most important. Really the strongest visual theme in my art seems to be my identity as a women, and my concern for other women.
Hey, perhaps there are lots of artists of color that I haven’t discovered, simply because their work is not ethnic in a traditional sense. Well, not liking to be pigeon-holed myself, I’ll try not to have preconceived expectations for artists of color. Instead,
I can simply enjoy the diversity their experiences bring to the canvas or potter’s wheel.