In Honor of Martin Luther King Day, I wanted to post one of my personal favorites from my show “Home”, before it ends in a few days, so the timing is perfect. “American beauty” represents the struggle and oppression African American people have had to endure thoughtout history here in the United States –although this is a reference from 1969, it is extremely relevant to today- 2018.
Miss Black America was started in 1968 in protest the whiteness of the mainstream Miss America pageant and normative beauty standards that excluded black women. The painting is half covered in a darkness that bifurcates the canvas diagonally, shrouding Smith’s features, except for a few highlights in her hair and earrings, as though splitting the difference between the spotlight she enjoys as a pageant winner and her relative obscurity within American popular culture.
I painted her face with all details and made Gloria the beauty she was, then finally scrapping it away, purposefully- placing her in the shadows to represent the constant need to be seen- not as a color -but as a human being. Racism has sadly become so normalized now with this current administration calling other nations “shitholes”, Charlottesville etc. We must not allow it to continue any longer. It should not be given air. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that” MLK