In our lifetime for us to whom this matters, we have been able to experience our first Black American President. It is so important for so many reasons, but especially because many of us never really thought President Barack Hussein Obama would happen during our tenure on this planet. Especially in a country that still must divorce itself from the selfish need to use other people in laborious conditions to create bountiful wealth for a few only. Minimum wage is almost as bad as slave labor or forced labor from people incarcerated. Images of great wealth surround us and many desire to live accordingly. It would be great if good clean water, healthy food, transportation, reliable housing and weather friendly decent clothing was accessible to all.
When President Obama came into office, amongst the elation of some, others felt extremely woeful. The news reports astonished many because guns and ammunition were sold out as people stocked up. Why then was there ever a discussion of “a post racial society” or “blacks have finally made it?” Plus President Obama was constantly impeded from making advancements such as his chance to appoint a judge to the Supreme Court.
So as the founder and director of the Terry McCormick Contemporary Fine and Folk Art Gallery, I decided to invite artists to join with me to celebrate this unforeseen phenomenon - President Obama. Our final exhibition and reception coincides with the celebration of Kwanzaa, an African American holiday, founded by Ron Karenga. The day of creativity or Kuumba in Swahili was the day chosen to commit to because as artists we make things through our own life experiences.
Blanche Brown’s collages all capture the ridiculously unnecessary chaos surrounding the Obama presidency as she uses an assortment of mixed media found objects along with images from magazines and other sources. Brown’s artwork has been selling in our gallery over a three-year period as she journeyed back to school with a son in college to earn an art degree.
Della Wells’ collages speak of the day-to-day situations that Black women weigh through especially as strategic navigators of race, gender and relationships. Della’s artwork found a large national audience starting with a strong Milwaukee base that continues to evolve through her annual exhibitions at the Kentuck (spelled correctly) Art Festival in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. There, several galleries visited and added her art inventory to their spaces i.e_____ . Also Intuit Folk Art Gallery in Chicago and the Portrait Society Gallery in Milwaukee continue bringing new patrons. With the opening of the newest Smithsonian mall museum, the National African American Museum of History and Culture, her collages and individually illustrated greeting cards are being prominently featured and sold through the NAAMHC’s gift shop.
Fatima K. Laster exchanged her corporate education for a chance to become a working artist. Her painting, Be My Voice, a diversion from her usual abstract imagery, explores America’s violent past and present and gives voice to abused and murdered Black and other women of color harmed by senseless police through institutions sworn to protect them. Emphasis on Black men shot or killed in the streets or jails is a primary American focus. Using the colors pink, baby blue and brown in place of red, white and blue, she allows what is akin to a feminist influence. The crumbling brittle 50 stars represent the occurrence of inhumane treatment in all 50 states. Army green paint is smeared over online news articles and images of female victims and their grievers where the color white is typically displayed on the American flag.
Known throughout the Milwaukee community for amazingly realistic portraits and often very large outdoor and indoor murals, Ras `Ammar Nsoroma’s historical and cultural subject matter is influenced solidly by the souls of Black folk. So often, he depicts both the beauty of Black people and the difficult American origins as noted in his painting Displaced and Disconnected. A man and woman bound together with neck braces and “stolen” have lost so much being shown on each square and tenuously held together. Ammar constantly explores different materials when painting and ways to create new effects through his aesthetics.
Evelyn Patricia Terry explores "America" as a theme for a new direction: artists’ books. Years of making original prints and rarely discarding anything on rag paper, Terry began recently honing a new skill and direction making altered books and books from scratch. Her text explores new ways to think about America as a place that is open to exploration continuously and as a place in which great adversity begets great opportunity. Terry’s books have been recently added to several University Library Special Collections nationally and can be seen at: http://vampandtramp.com/finepress/t/Evelyn-Patricia-Terry.html
Concentrating on “What's great about America?” must start with the answer, “You and I who believe in each other and the freedom to pursue life, liberty and happiness.” In this Kwanzaa spirit, you are invited to join us in making things (i.e. mixed media drawings/paintings/collages) to take home as souvenirs of the creativity we must nurture within.
Refreshments include vegan hot soups, hot ginger cider, a berry pizza like dessert and, of course, a generous selection of raw veggies and fruits. Spreading good news about staying well and as much as possible - medication free; we cultivate radiant health to establish physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing.
Contact Evelyn Patricia Terry at 414.264.6766 with any questions.
To schedule uniquely beautiful portraits, contact Ammar at 414.731.3973 or through Facebook.