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History Of African American Art

History Of African American Art

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Original - Oil / gold foil on canvas
24" x 48"

The idea for this painting came about from a discussion about art and how old it really is. When did the first man put an image onto a surface? I decided to research for this and gather information. Once I had some answers, I began a layout process through sketches.

This painting is an historical time progression of the African American artist from the ancestral beginning into the future.  I use a string with knots, called a story line, to weave this story together.  In Australian Aborigine tradition, the story of each tribe is committed to memory and recited by the shaman using a knot and its place on a string to jog his memory. The Aborigines claim to have the entire story of man from the beginning of time in the form of oral history.

In the beginning, Original Man came out of Africa and populated the earth. They recorded their presence in the form of visual art carved into rocks and painted with minerals onto the walls of caves. Scientific research has brought to light one repeating design used by the Aborigines. It is the star burst representing the one Supreme God of the world.

The visual art records of the Egyptians show how our people evolved into thriving progressive civilizations with advanced art, mathematics, science, medicine, engineering and spirituality. They also used the sun to represent one supreme God.  In Middle Africa people used the arts in sculpture, wood carving, metallurgy, textile weaving, and décor to express their culture. The Gye-Nyame is an African adinkra design representing “One God” which comes from the Akhan proverb, “No one lives who saw the creation and no one lives to know the end, except God.”

When Africans were kidnapped to America in the slave trade, their spirituality was the one thing that helped them through the hard times. Art in the church was allowed to tell stories and the symbol of the cross represented the one Supreme God. As we gained our freedom from slavery, our art became more representative of our culture, struggles, times, and life style.

African American artists today, represented by my self portrait, continue to grow and evolve with more freedom of style and application.  Doves carry the story line to future generations of African American visual artists.


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