Portraits of Black Leaders and Thinkers

Nearly a year ago (I am posting this in January 2018), I painted a series of portraits of inspirational black men and women. It was January 2017, shortly after the inauguration and Women's March and I was in my illegal basement apartment watching Rep. John Lewis give his testimonial on CSPAN. Suddenly, I felt compelled to paint his portrait. I found some acrylic paints and worked quickly, using a still-frame of his testimonial as inspiration. Soon, other prominent black leaders came to mind, whose autobiographies I had recently read, or whose stories caught my attention. After this burst of inspiration, I considered whether or not to continue the series. Once it began to seem forced, I put down my brush. Although hard work and diligence are virtues, one's motivation must be pure of heart and not outwardly imposed.

In the year since I worked on these portraits, my perspective on things has changed. I have pulled away from the exhausting cycles of the mainstream media and have decided to focus on self-enrichment instead. Anger eats us up inside. And we are so deliberately misinformed that we are actually angry at an illusion. I continue to do my research on subjects that interest me, reading an author or watching someone speak on YouTube, writing down a book mentioned, ordering it, reading it, reading what they suggest, and so on.

Malcom X (1925-1965)
Acrylic on canvas, 16 x 12 inches
January 18, 2017

Alex Haley (1921-1992)
Acrylic on canvas, 16 x 12 inches
January 19, 2017

Rep. John Lewis (b. 1940)
Acrylic on canvas, 16 x 12 inches
January 19, 2017

W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963)
Acrylic on canvas, 8 x 6 inches
January 25, 2017

Sojourner Truth (c.1797-1883)
Acrylic on canvas, 8 x 6 inches
January 25, 2017

Frederick Douglass (c.1818-1895)
Acrylic on canvas, 8 x 6 inches
January 25, 2017

Angela Davis (b. January 26, 1944)
Acrylic on canvas, 8 x 6 inches
January 26, 2017


Rep. Shirley Chisholm (1924-2005)
Acrylic on canvas, 18 x 36 inches
January 29, 2017
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