“Art is how we decorate space. Music is how we decorate time.” – Jean-Michel Basquiat
I love art in many forms, but in particular the visual arts. If you’ve been to my home you know that I have a growing collection of art displayed throughout our four floors right alongside the masterpieces created by my children. My art collection started haphazardly, mostly a result of what appealed to me in the moment. My first two pieces (a diptych) was purchased on layaway in the years after I graduated form college and moved to Brooklyn. Even still, some themes in my collection are apparent. But when I recently read that you should have a theme that guides your collecting, I stepped up my focus. Its not about the potential monetary value, but instead about the critical value of my collection. I want it to be unique and a true representation of me.
So, as I scanned my walls, I realized that the majority of my art contains images or references to black girls or women. These girls and women often seem disenfranchised, misunderstood or lonely. The context in which they are depicted usually attempts to define their place in society, which is often a place on the outside of that which is safe, good or known. I’m left wanting to understand more about the individual identities of the subjects. My collecting theme is to explore how place – both literally and figuratively – defines black women.
Where are these places? Where are the men in these places? Well, I do have a few pieces that include men and/or depict a place without also including a female figure. There are places that have personal relevance to me or to black women, more generally. And the absence of men in these places may reveal that African American men are experiencing their own distress, leaving them physically and/or emotionally absent from their women. This is not incidental.
As for the aesthetic that attracts me, I enjoy watercolor, collage, oil, acrylic, mixed media, lithographs and other materials. I like colorful, abstract works with expressive faces. Like with books, a melancholy tone appeals to me – scattered periodically with streaks of optimism. I like to see vulnerability in the faces of subjects – a questioning and yearning. Maybe this is a mirror image of how I see myself.
As I continue building my art collection, I hope to add old and new African-American artists as well as sculpture, which could be displayed in my backyard. The more voices and perspectives, the better. And, theme or no theme, my art collection will always reflect a part of me.
Pics to come shortly.