I’ve learned a lot this past week. I’ve taken action in ways that feel accessible and within reach. I’ve listened, I’ve paused, I’ve read, I’ve felt an overwhelming sense of guilt and grief, I’ve acknowledged the depth of my privilege, and yet I’m painfully aware that this is barely scratching the surface.
I’ve been thinking about how my business can be more inclusive, supportive and reflective of the values that are personally important to me. I’m grappling with how can I create my own work right now while also supporting Black artists and Black owned businesses.
My artwork is my livelihood so I need to press on, but I’m determined to be intentional about it.
The easiest and most straightforward way to do this is by donating.
This week I’m donating 50% of all print sales to
Campaign Zero and Chicago Community Bond Fund.
Lastly, I want to share this story of one of my own experiences painting people of color over the years. In a college art critique in 2009 when I showed my 4 ft. painting of a Black man on raw canvas, my white professor challenged me with this question: who was I, a young white girl, to be making a statement by painting a Black man? I had taken a photo over the summer of him leaning against a wall in a Union Square subway station in NYC. He was wearing a red shirt and blue denim and I loved how the colors looked against the black and white graffiti in the background. I frequently took photographs of people I found interesting so I could paint from them later. Her question to me in the critique was not of ill intent- it was to push me to create a dialogue around my work when asked in the future, “why did you paint this?”. I didn’t have an answer to that question and it weighed heavily on me. It made me question whether or not it was my place to be painting Black people at all. But then I’d argue, why wouldn’t I? Is it better to avoid painting them completely? That surely doesn’t solve anything. I’ve thought about that question a ton in the last decade and it’s probably inhibited me from publicly sharing some of the work I love to paint, because I didn’t have an answer if someone were to ask. I’m not trying to make a statement other than portraying what I personally find to be beautiful or striking. But I know that images make a statement regardless of my intent, and that was her point. There’s a bigger discourse to be had, a responsibility to carry of who I choose to portray in which setting and what message it sends. But I’ve realized that my preliminary answer has always been: because I get to use every color on my palette. I mix red, orange and blue for the base, I use green, red and purple for the undertones, I use yellow, orange and pink for the highlights. But is that a good enough answer? As a painter, that’s how I approach it. But as an artist that needs to give meaning for everything I create, I know I still have more to learn.
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