For me, Raymond Saunders articulates how I too, reflect on artists that are Black and my relationship to the world. In his 1967 pamphlet, “Black is a Color,” Saunders argues that “African American artists need not be limited by racial representations, and argues against the concept of “black” art”. For me it is troubling to continuously be grouped with other artists simply because of my racial characteristics by not only white people, but those that are Black as well- in addition to all other races that are non Black that extend their invitation to exhibit.
The raw reflection within the text aligns with how I challenge given narratives and break out of bounds to ensure that my work is not reactionary by programming but by intention (should that be the desired subject). He writes, “each artist has to do for himself what is necessary for his own development, fulfilling himself as an individual, not as one of a herd (Saunders, p.274).” Considering, I am in constant reflection of whether my thoughts and ideas are my own, if so, various ways they can be articulated creatively.
If the goal is to spark conversation, my goal is to express visually, meditations on ideas that will garner remarkable feedback; remark-ability. Saunders goes on to write, “some angry artists are using their arts as political tools, instead of vehicles of free expression. using his art and his anger in such a way, the artist makes himself a mere peddler, when he might be a prophet (Saunders, p.270).” I applaud this excerpt because artists should prophecy new existences and realities that allow the viewer, especially the Black viewer, to re-imagine their reality to perhaps invoke action or question their current self.
I’m not not here to play to the gallery, I am not responsible for anyone’s entertainment. I am responsible for being as fully myself, as a man and artist, as I possibly can be, while allowing myself to hope that in the effort of some light, some love, some beauty may be shed upon the world, and perhaps some inequities put right.
(Saunders, p. 270)
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