An unconventional and exuberant artist working out of New York City. Born in the Storyville section of New Orleans in 1926, Ed Clark studied at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1947 to 1951 and L’Academie de la Grande Chaumiere in Paris in 1952.
Clark has always been an inventive and creative artist, experimenting with techniques, like his innovative use of the push broom, for example, and his method of working on paper with dry pigment, inspired by the ‘pouring sand’ technique of the Pueblo tribe of the American Southwest. His work continues to evolve and astonish.
An activist and photographer involved early on with one of the leading black art collectives in Chicago, the AfriCobra movement. AfriCobra he says, strives to make art accessible and relatable to the average person on the street. Cowans is both artist and renowned photographer, working on over 30 motion pictures as well as numerous publications along the way.
He was influenced he says by mentor and the ultimate renaissance man, Gordon Parks, who took Cowans under his wing while working at Life magazine. Cowans expresses that the larger American culture will not celebrate African American artists until they celebrate themselves.
A figurative African American painter with Haitian roots. His works of everyday people are an ongoing conversation that shows to the world, the very faces of people who, often overlooked, help keep America going. Be it a family waiting for a bus or a couple sharing an embrace after purchasing a new house, Deceus’ pieces tap into a solid understanding of the American experience that is beautifully expressed.
In terms of media representation of the Black experience, Deceus believes that there comes a point where ‘we have to take blame,’ in terms of ‘falling for commercialism.’ Working out of Brooklyn, NY, Deceus is a full-time artist who makes his living from the works he sells.
A trained realist painter working and living in New Jersey. Originally of Little Rock, Arkansas, the artist believes the city’s rich history helped him develop his outlook on art and life. Hampton declares that not enough artists are interested in realist painting because it is a difficult discipline to master. Even when it’s mastered, he continues, it’s difficult for a Black artist to get the same recognition automatically afforded his contemporaries.
Hampton’s pieces are classical renditions of space and light that afford the viewer a glimpse into an almost ethereal and certainly universal space.
A resident of the Bronx, NY and has been painting for over fifteen years. Huston’s work is an attempt she believes, to blend the African American and American experience into a unified one.
In terms of acceptance for the black artists, Huston believes ‘the times have changed, but not that much’. In one instance, a patron of one of her exhibits asked her quite blatantly, ‘can you do white people?’ Huston believes art can help show African Americans positive reflections that will allow for an evolution of the stereotypical perceptions of African Americans.
Gordon C. James’ chosen artistic genre has its roots in Impressionism. The art of John Singer Sargeant, Nicholas Fechin, Henry Ossawa Tanner and many others inspired James to pursue a style that is both academic and expressive.
As a result his work contains a lyricism not often found in contemporary art. Be it through the sensitivity found in his romantic pieces or the energy in his city scenes, James always connects with his viewer. He says of his work, ‘when people see my art I want them to say, I know that person, I know that feeling.’
June Kelly manages a The June Kelly Gallery in Manhattan. She shows the works of young and emerging artists, as well as mid-career and established artists. The gallery’s major focus is contemporary painting, sculpture and photography, both abstract and figurative. Before opening the gallery, Ms. Kelly, had been a private dealer for many years. In addition, she had managed the career of artist Romare Bearden for 13 years until his death in 1988.
John Kisch is the curator of SeparateCinema.com, a vintage poster house and travelling collection with pieces from a wide breadth of eras, including blaxploitation. Established in the late seventies, the Separate Cinema Archive has been the only source dedicated to the art and fascinating history of the African-Americans in film. The archive of over 25,000 posters, lobby cards, stills and assorted ephemera spans the past century of important and historic black cinema.
Wangechi Mutu, a Kenyan-born artist based in New York, makes luscious yet unsettling pictures of female figures. Her painted and collaged works on Mylar function as potent social critique while simultaneously exploring more poetic strains of mythology and allegory as well as the sensuousness of form, color, and pattern. Particularly interested in myths about gender and ethnicity that have long circulated in Africa and the West, Mutu has adopted the medium of collage – which by its nature evokes rupture and collision – to depict the monstrous, the exotic, and the feminine.
Piecing together magazine imagery with painted surfaces and found materials, Mutu’s collages mimic amputation, transplant operations and bionic prosthetics. Her figures become parody mutilations, their bodies grotesquely marred through modifications that echo atrocities of war or self-inflicted ‘improvements’ of plastic surgery. Mutu examines how ideology is implicitly tied to corporeal form. She explores how European physical preferences have been inflicted on and adapted by Africans, resulting in both social hierarchy and genocide.
A sculptor and painter working out of Brooklyn, NY. A member of one of the pioneering art collectives, Weusi, Neals believes ‘a lot of black people went to sleep,’ he believes ‘people think the fight is over, but it’s not.’ He cites the media sensationalization of the small fraction of successful African Americans which helps to create the illusion of progress when, in reality, ‘the fight continues.’
His artwork has been exhibited at institutions, museums, galleries, universities, and libraries across the country. His works are included in public collections in the USA and abroad in such places as The Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C.; Howard University, Washington, D.C.; The Studio Museum in Harlem, NY; Ghana National Museum, Ghana; Columbia Museum, Columbia, SC; and in private collections including David Dinkins, Former Mayor of NYC; Hon. John Lewis, Congressman, Georgia; celebrities — Harry Belafonte, Oprah Winfrey, Gil Noble, producer ‘Like It Is’ NY; among others.