Honouring black heroines
THIS SHOW THEME IS INSPIRED BY THE MAGIC AND POWER OF BLACK WOMEN.
OUR MISSION IS TO CELEBRATE THEIR BEAUTY, STRENGTH AND RESILIENCE,
AND TO INSPIRE THE NEXT GENERATION OF HUMANS THROUGH THEIR LIFE’S AND EXAMPLES.
ENJOY THESE INSPIRATIONAL ARTWORKS FROM 25 FEMALE ARTISTS FROM ALL AROUND THE WORLD.
Mae Carol Jemison (born October 17, 1956) is an American engineer, physician, and former NASA astronaut. She became the first black woman to travel into space when she served as a mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Jemison joined NASA's astronaut corps in 1987 and was selected to serve for the STS-47 mission, during which she orbited the Earth for nearly eight days on September 12–20, 1992.
This is a portrait of Wangarĩ Maathai who was a renowned Kenyan social, environmental and political activist and the first African woman to win the Nobel Prize. I consider her a true heroine because it is really difficult to excel in all these areas being a woman from an ethnic minority group in a so-called third world country. I believe that sharing stories of inspiring women like Wangari would encourage other women to continue working for equality around the world.
Queen Nanny of the Maroons
While women from the British aristocracy enjoyed the sweetness that had been produced through slave labour, an African-Jamaican woman was leading her people to victory in bitter guerrilla warfare against the British Redcoats.
born in a Ghana in 1686, Known as ‘Nanny of The Maroons’. Queen Nanny was a leader of the Maroons, a community which had escaped slavery in Jamaica, during the late 1700s - 1800s.
Nanny and one of her brothers, Quao, founded a village in the Blue Mountains that became known as Nanny Town. Nanny was known as a healer and an Obeah woman. It has been widely accepted that her efforts contributed to the escape and freedom of almost a thousand Maroons.
You sit by the river at night, look up to the sky and wonder what it would feel like to be whole, its as though you tasted it before but it feels as if a dream rolling past the tip of your thoughts, a silvery smoke that slips through your fingers. You want freedom, in yourself, from yourself, the kind of free where it feels easy to give everything you have in your soul. And then Nina Simone comes on...it’s in the rise, in the crescendo. It’s in a feeling, a feeling that's inherent in the night sky around you and the cold stone you sit on. Freedom is no fear - Nina Simone.
The phenomenal woman that is Angela Davis is an American author, philosopher, professor, revolutionary, feminist, political activist and advocate for black rights, civil rights, women’s rights and prison reform. I was so struck by her poise and calm ferocity when watching the recent documentary 13th about the American prison system, and systemic racism in America that I felt compelled to paint her on the streets of Brighton. It was a great opportunity to chat to passers by about this inspiring icon and what she stands for.
“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change, I am changing the things I cannot accept” - Angela Davis.
The Three Fates
There are biblical and religious connotations with the white veils that signify purity, and the elongated format of the three paintings, reminiscent of frescoes and paintings hung in the arched alcoves of churches . The painting subverts the stereotypical image of Madonna in portraying these black women as the creators and weavers of life. The figure depicted is a friend who posed for me in 2014 while we were studying together. I was struck by here beauty, elegance and positivity and asked her to sit for me several times. These paintings are not simply about her, as they convey a symbolic reference to the Greek Myth and hold greater significance to the honouring of the unsung black Heroine.
Holly aka realredwoman, is an artist, born in East London & “raised beautifully, to take people as people,”
Experiencing some trauma as a child, Holly collected newspapers using news stories as a coping mechanism to feel she wasn’t the only one suffering. Realising this wasn’t healthy; she let the negative attachment go by creating cards with the papers. Holly still uses newspapers in her (HE)Art art series.
Art is her therapy. Now expecting a new life, baby Ivy! Holly aims to build a business from her art.
Holly’s a survivor who chooses to spread love. She is a beautiful ripple!
DR. WANGARI MAATHAI
Dr. Wangari Maathai was a trailblazing Kenyan activist and politician. The first African Woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004, she founded The Green Belt Movement in 1977, an NGO that has planted over 30 million trees across Kenya.
Cécile Fatiman was a Haitian vodoo priestess born in the 18th century. She presided over a ceremony at the Bois Caïman in the role of mambo together with priest Dutty Boukman. Boukman prophesied that the slaves Jean François, Biassou, and Jeannot would be leaders of a resistance movement and revolt that would free the slaves of Saint-Domingue.
An animal was sacrificed and Boukman and the priestess exhorted the listeners to take revenge against their French oppressors. A week later, 1800 plantations had been destroyed and 1000 slaveholders killed. It is reported that she lived to the ripe old age of 112 years old.
Grace Jones was born in Jamaica then moved to New York when she was 13. She started her career as a model then embarked on a career within music, as a singer, songwriter, record producer, and even acted in movies. Even at the age of 72, she is still performing her music around the world. Grace has been one of my favourite female icons since I was a teen, with her fashion style, beauty and fearless persona she is still setting trends for the succession of female artists we see today.
Kara Walker is a contemporary artist that explores race, gender, sexuality, violence, and identity in her work. She is best known for her panoramic friezes of cut-paper silhouettes, usually black figures against a white wall, which address the history of American slavery and racism through violent and unsettling imagery.
Walker found herself uncomfortable and afraid to address race within her art during her early years. She had a distinct worry that having race as the nucleus of her content would be received as "typical" or "obvious."
Walker has taught extensively at Columbia University. She was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 2018.
Erika Hart is a black, queer, non-binary Femme. Among her many powers she is an activist and racial/social/gender disruptor, sex educator, writer, model and runs her own podcast
“Hoodrat to Headwrap”.
She flaunts her beautiful and strong form, also normalising the form of a breast cancer survivor. Her honesty and powerful charisma is enchanting, empowering so many others to follow their truths and question social constructs. We love you Erika”
MI AMOR. MY LOVE
There are so many cruel things happening around us all the time in this world, that I wanted to create this piece with a message of purest love, care, safety and connection to nature and to each other.
The mother of the piece represents the Mother archetype, nurturing her baby. It is also "a different" version of a traditional image of Virgin Mary feeding her baby Jesus.
Nina Simone was an American musician, singer and activist who I wanted to honour creating a mural. Some of her most representative music styles were jazz, blues and r&b, her voice and music always inspired me in the creative process and that drove me to work on this piece with love and dedication.
The position of her face looking up it’s a reference to her freedom and dreams while the colourful and dynamic background aim to symbolise her music floating around and to everyone’s soul.
In addition to her iconic status as an artist and musician, she was also a civil rights activist. She was real throughout her career and proud of her blackness. She is definitely a heroine and even stated that ‘there is no excuse for the young people not knowing who the heroes and heroines are or were’.
She may not have been mainstream like some of her peers, but she definitely set an example with her music, natural beauty and being a proud black woman.
Michaela Deprince is a ballerina with the Dutch National Ballet. She was adopted when she was 5 after a brutal civil war in Sierra Leone which killed both of her parents.
She was left at an orphanage by her uncle because of her skin condition, vitiligo, so she was a curse for her family. One day a magazine blew on the gate of the orphanage, there was a picture of a ballerina on it. "I want to be like her," she said to her teacher. Soon after she and her 'sister', Mia were adopted by an American family. Finally Michaele could start to dance.
"Her beautiful smile carries those of her ancestors, who’s smiled through pain and heroism.
Her beautiful gele shows the world how glamorous she is,
It covers her thick strong tight curls gracefully, that’s deeply rooted with ancestry and powers beyond her wildest dream.
A beautiful queen, that is she.."
My works celebrate black excellence - it’s incredibly energising vibe, vibrancy and joy fullness. I want to share the captivating empowerment I always get every time I’m in touch with black culture. I want to highlight that diversity imparts strength and resilience In every community and love and respect to one another is the key of human evolution.
MY FRIEND CONSTANCE
She carries a heavy burden.
For generations upon generations.
The pain brings with it such wisdom,
an immense knowing of the world.
For every tear she sheds,
she brings to life
all of us who gave up on us,
who gave up on love.
MOTHER POLICE STEPHEN
(portrait of Baroness Lawrence)
A Mother stands alone and faces the world,
As her son lies cold in the grave.
Her eyes reveal her pain,
Yet in the darkness her strength says, HERE I STAND.
I shall not be moved, I fight for you son.
Your name, never forgotten. Will now live within my memory.
And though my soul cries out, A hope springs forth,
I’ll raise up high, Nobility.
NIOMI ARLEEN MCLEAN-DALEY
Yo, I’m the same little girl that grew up next door to you, all the things a teenage girl goes through. Life was so unjust, it’s the real shit that’s happening to us. Seeds on the street, drowning in poverty and deceit but black roses grow from concrete. 23 years trying to be what you wanted me to be, till I picked up the mic and I was on TV. Don’t be afraid, I know you’re strong enough to make it. It’s not about a bad attitude and it’s not about the bad vibes. Let the fire blaze from deep inside your soul. I just want to light up the world. Love was enough to succeed - to grow Dy-Na-Mi-Tee
I.am a retiree
This is my GOLDEN age
My time to SHINE
WHAT difference does it make what time I sleep or awake
At 9.09 am precisely
Or sleep till 1.00pm untimely?
Untimely? Is that a word I heard or did I just now invent it?
I am now vulnerable by age
I am governmentally and self controllably quarantined.
So why further constrict me by time?
Allow my mind freedom to soar
To rise at least to the branches where birds sing at dawn.
Allow me to dance barefoot on grass
Allow me time to laugh at something or nothing as my mind meanders through time.
Allow me to be me.
This is Kelsea Sellars, she’s from South London and one of my closest friends. She’s taught me immensely of how; decolonising the mind is a life-long journey, her experiences of growing up as a second generation Jamaican in London have shaped her, and what it means to be a Black womxn in 2020. She is currently working on The Ubele Initiative campaign, raising awareness on the impact of COVID19 on BAME communities and unapologetically pressuring the government to take action."
My ode to Dr. Maya Angelou. A woman who taught me and continues to teach me. Her words soothe me, encourage me, challenge me, hold me. I am forever grateful for the moment spent with her when she visited my University over 15 yrs ago. I had no words, only tears of gratefulness. That day she held my hand and wiped my tears and simply said "I know sista I am thankful to meet you too,remember you are enough". I tear up just thinking about it.
The central cultural value of ancient Egypt was ma’at – harmony and balance. Keeping balance in one’s life encouraged the same in one’s family and, by extension, outward, one’s neighborhood, community, city, and the entire nation. A vital aspect of maintaining this balance was gratitude which would elevate a person’s journey through life. The ritual of the Five Gifts of Hathor encouraged gratitude on a daily basis. When joining in the worship of Hathor, the priestess would take hold of their left forearm and say, “Name the five things you would miss the most if you were to die right now.” The priestess, would then raise the person’s left hand in front of the person’s face and say, “These are the five gifts of Hathor”, and the person would look at the five fingers of their left hand as the ritual would continue, “Every day you have at least these five things to be grateful for and, should you lose one, there will always come another.” When that person went back out into the fields and reached out for the stalk of wheat to cut, under the hot sun, they would see their left hand always before them and be constantly reminded of the five gifts of Hathor. Early depictions of the goddess show a queenly woman with the sun disk and horns on her head; later she came to be seen as a woman with the head of a cow or, simply, as a cow, symbolizing her life-giving energy and bounty toward humanity. Hathor presided over affairs of the heart, sexuality, natural beauty, dance and music, diplomacy with foreign nations, fertility – of the land, people, and animals – and motherhood.
By Dr. J. Mark
Professor of Philosophy