The Color Black
When I am unsure what new art project to undertake, I fall back on making paste paper (like the image above). I use the medium of paste paper because it is for me a predominantly intuitional, and not as much an intentional art form.
As I pulled some paint from my box to put on the white paper, I felt a pull (though not knowing why at the time) toward the colors of black and red. I didn't have to think about the white, it was a given, given the paper. And the colors red and black just seemed right at the time.
Every piece I created the other day, had the color black in it. I did not give it much intentional thought, but nonetheless my conscience knew something needed to be revealed!
In the process of picking black for every piece, I heard a whisper of what had been said to me long ago when dealing with color in art, "Be careful, black has a lot of power." This time I heard it as more an art lesson, but rather a life lesson.
After the piece shown above had dried, I placed it on my art studio bench and let it speak to me. I saw the following: where there was once white there is now red, black runs through this whole piece, it has a three dimensional quality, there appears to be clouds.
This piece was my subconscious trying to speak to me about the red blood of black men shed on our streets at the hands of police. How is that we continue to allow the killing of unarmed black me by those in authority?
Then, there was the fact that black ran through the entire piece. If we are to deal with racism in more than a bandaid way, we must be willing to acknowledge the level of racism that runs through all part of our society: education, criminal justice system, employment, media...
And what about those clouds? Could it be that we have been hiding behind the excuse that we are unsure what to do regarding racism. How can that be when we have had 401 years to think about it. Could it not be that those clouds are more of a smoke screen to hide our complacency, lack of empathy, or white privilege.
My teacher was right, black is powerful. Throughout our country's history we have built our country's wealth and prosperity on the back of black slaves, and then when they sought to build their own wealthy and prosperity violence was our response.
With the realization that black is indeed a powerful color, can come the thought by some that white is a superior color to all colors, and that red is a necessary color that needs to be seen, if people are to kept from becoming too powerful.
I was worried that I had yet to create a piece of art in response to the death of George Floyd. Little did I know, I was creating such a piece of art without being even knowing it as first. It is as if the white paper was speaking even when I was unsure what needed to be said.
Art is an invitation into a conversation for sure, but it is also more than just talk, it can call us to action. I know now what I must do. This piece has done that for me. I hope you will join me in expressing in your own life, in both conversations and actions that black lives matter.