Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Blackstraction: Putting 0ut the Word

Blackstraction turns 20 this year... It was introduced as a way of working in my talk for a solo exhibition at Parish Gallery/Georgetown in Washington, DC on October 25, 2000. In 2011 I made clarifying changes to the theory and finalized the definition with the primary citation "the objectification of painting."

blackstraction (blak-strak'sh-n) n.
1. the objectification of painting 2. an emotive non-representational work of art stressing formal internal relationships using African/American/Asian art practices at times employing craft techniques and three dimensional presentation   blackstractionist n. an artist engaging therein
blackstraction (blak-strak'sh-n) v.t.
to make markings with color on diverse surfaces that relate to each other and their environment in two and three dimensions     blackstractioned, blackstractioning 
Blackstractionism (blak-strak'sh-niz-m) n. Fine Arts
1. a style of non-representational painting which appeared in the United States in the late 20th century employing craft techniques and three dimensional presentation 2. theory and practice of blackstraction 

I define blackstraction as a way of working. What differentiates it from other ways of working is that it was not a movement developed simultaneously by artists that were friends or colleagues working in the same time period but by individuals over a period of roughly 40 years, just after WW2 - 1990 or so. Lots of experimenting happened during this time in artists' studios, particularly during the Civil Rights and Black Arts Movement... 

The art world isms that we know follow the trajectory of the western art market.  Artists like Sam Gilliam, Jack Whitten and Elizabeth Murray that are coming to the attention of the market now objectified painting making it three dimensional. This is BLACKSTRACTION: if art history does repeat and Modernism is a model, its Asian and African aesthetics will be obscured as these ways of working become foundation of what will be called new (western) art styles. 
Put the word out: it's called Blackstraction. 

This short film was produced in 2010 by Rachel Lynn Smith as part of The Community Voice Project, a collaboration between American University and The Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum. The series was created as a project for her students in a class combining cultural anthropology and film studies by Professor Nina Shapiro-Perl, now retired.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Intersectional Painting 2017-2019

using quilt batting before The Paducah Project*:

 After The Paducah Project*

October of 2018
carte blanche 56" x 84" commission based on the work above for the DC Public Library
Capitol View Branch Childrens' Room
installed March, 2019:

carte blanche so from a selection of three:


studio exercise (weaving the remanants):
Small Fomat Grid Paintings 1 and 2

Large Format Grid Paintings 1 - 7

for looking for a narrative between weaving and painting using 3 dimensions


Abstract Realities: Through the Eyes of Black Women

Bowie State University Gallery October 8 - November 5, 2019
with Adjoa Bowens, Gail Shaw-Clemons and Aziza Claudia Gibson-Hunter
curated by Alexis Dixon





Monday, September 2, 2019

Public Offering 2019: Eradicate Cultural Sharecropping

Now is a great time to be an independent artist!

Society is in a chaotic moment of redress and the "art world" is reshaping. Its okay for artists to self-promote and self-represent, thanks to the internet. Artists are finally in position to gain a modicum of control over who gets to be an artist and who gets to define fine art.

It is a popular fiction that success as a fine artist can only be found participating in the traditional art market with its well documented history of sexism, misogyny, racism, ageism and exploitation for profit by everyone promoting the artist (except the artist) with few exceptions.

That many artists practice outside these parameters and are consistently making a comfortable living making new work needs more visibility. Many are not rich nor famous yet sustain a successful practice producing and selling work that for whatever reason fails to resonate with the "art world."
The art world we read about in mainstream media and that we talk about when we talk about buying and selling art is exclusive to a very wealthy group of people. Great monetary values don't always equal great cultural value except to this very wealthy group buying and selling what THEY DECIDE is art. In the past year, that included a questionable Leonardo da Vinci and the first AI-generated painting auctioned at Christies for more than $400,000!

Dialogues about cultural diversity, inclusion and an expanding art public suggest this needs to change. Contemporary arts marketing acknowledges new potential buyers outside this realm and targets a more diverse base with disposable income to introduce to collecting. This can happen
when galleries representing artists and artists representing themselves sell in the same venue.

One such current venture is SuperFine.World, a national network of art fairs featuring galleries, artists representing themselves, and a cap on pricing. SuperFine fairs target the public at large and are set to become the first "recognized"  professional fine art venues where anyone can buy art from the artist.

Precedents go back at least to the early 2000's and include Art Off the Main, organized by Loris Crawford who presented international artists and galleries of African descent at the Puck Building in NYC before its' restoration. 

This open engagement with the public permits artists to build a constituency of supporters that will follow the artist's career with interest and insight into the way the artist practices art. This consistent exposure over time gives the public agency to decide who can be an artist and what fine art is in this day and age-- the same way it has been decided exclusively by the art world in the past.

Until recently, artists representing themselves were by and large dismissed as decorative and amateur. That's changing. Outreach by museums in neighborhoods and schools has resulted in a bigger and growing art appreciating public. If an artist' goal is to sustain practice through the sale of objects, this is a demographic to seek out and cultivate.

Independent artists and their patrons have an opportunity to be part of a burgeoning movement that will bring new meaning to the words "Public Artists." We live in an age when the course of art and culture does not have to reflect the tastes and opinions of the very wealthy.

Eradicate Cultural Sharecropping!

       Public Offering 2019             #BeOneOfThe1000              September 1-30, 2019

Friday, October 5, 2018

WhiteWashing @ Pyramid Atlantic Art Center

execution: May - August
exhibition: September 7 - October 13
(not pictured: "Happenstance" monoprints) 


artists' remarks september 7, 2018

Fencing Out Color #1 - 20 

      Almost Human

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Straight Up Feudal

Straight Up Feudal

[we find ourselves]
in the 2017 Middle Ages

1%er's and their
corporations are the
ruling class
the ceo's and merchants
still have money
[where] the rest were
made serf, dependent on
and needs must be grateful
to the corporation.

Remember Roland Tried To Tell 'Em
but the systematic dismantling
of America's pseudodemocracy
went unperceived in a
maelstrom of social
media and information
It doesn't matter.

history will call
this coup bloodless.
meanwhile, there is a lot of blood being shed.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Paducah Project

A. I. R. Studio, Paducah, Kentucky
March 3 - 31, 2017
(special thanks to Dr. Estelle Cooke-Sampson, Debbi Dabney, Alonzo Davis, Cathy Neri, Michael Terra, Susan Mitz, The Paducah Fiber Artists Guild and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities for their support of this project.)

quilt batting and fabric interfacing (painted white using mixture of latex and Liquitex gloss medium)
Golden acrylics, chalk pastels, coloring pencils, graphite, oil stick, cotton thread

Process (in any order)
Paint Cut Weave Stitch Draw

              (referenced by parts crossing)   

MATERIAL          PLACE            TRADITION
RACE                  GENDER            HISTORY
PAINTING           OBJECT             PICTURE

starting point: "intersectional"
                         one long braid (humanity/connectedness/binding/chains)
                         black brown yellow red white (ethnicity) 


ending point: braid becomes technical (no longer conceptual/subject)

Exhibition: Honfleur Gallery June 16 -August 5, 2017

Chains of Humanity
36" x 56" x 2"

Hanging Out: We the People Blacker than Blue Chocolate Caramel High Yellow and Red Bone Too
34" x 34" 

38" x 24.5"

Penetrating Blackness
31" x 57"

Breaking the Chains of Mental Slavery Behind Our Smiley Face Masks
18" x 66"

Balancing Act (20 Constructed Drawings)
12" x 9"

Untitled (16 panels)
21" x 21"