Thursday, August 6, 2020

Black Artists Through History Series Inspired By The Roosevelt Island March For Justice, Take The Drawing Challenge Says RIRA Youth Committee Chair - Lesson 3 On Artist Kehinde Wiley, Painted Portrait Of President Obama And Rumors Of War Sculpture Speaking Back To Confederate Monuments

Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Children, Youth & Education Committee Chair Adib Mansour developed a series of Black Artists Through History Lessons inspired by the June 3 Roosevelt Island March For Justice

The first lesson was on sculptor Edmonia Lewis.

The second lesson was on the painter Romare Howard Bearden.

The current lesson is on the contemporary artist Kehinde Wiley who painted the portrait of President Barack Obama for the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery.

According to Mr. Mansour:
In this 3rd lesson of the Black Artists Through History series, I am in awe of this successful New York-based artist, Kehinde Wiley, who had over 33 solo exhibits since 2002 and multitudes of worldwide group exhibitions.

His subjects are often young black men and women painted in a photorealistic rendering against stunning patterns in the background. He once said that his art’s mission stems from “The desire to look at a black American culture as underserved, in need of representation”. Today, Wiley’s works are held in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Denver Art Museum, the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, among others.

I find it very pertinent to our island’s Youth March for Equality to celebrate this Black artist, "At a time when young black men are constantly vilified in the press and mainstream media, and even murdered on the street by racist policemen, Wiley's portraits are an essential document of the power, fashion, versatility and beauty of the black community in the USA.” The Art Story.

I encourage every Roosevelt Island youth to pursue their dreams and make them a reality. Celebrate your culture and make it the foundation of your future. Wiley is an excellent example of how exploration and celebration of one’s culture can influence and drive their artistic work and their future- how can you do this in your own life?

I hope you enjoy this lesson. I would be honored if you take the artistic challenge and send me your painted version of  Kehinde Wiley work

to my RIRA email:

I would also encourage the youth to email me your thoughts on these wonderful black artists and your opinions on a vision for equality on the island, in this city of ours, and in our country. I would love to engage in a thoughtful discussion of race and equity in art history and theory.
Here's more on Kehinde Wiley including videos about his Rumors Of War sculpture recently installed  in Richmond Virginia speaking back to the nearby Confederate monuments.

According to the CBS This Morning:
... "You want your statue to be speaking back to those statues?" Mason asked.

"I want my statue to be speaking back to the people looking at those statues," Wiley said.

"So you don't think those statues should be taken down?" Mason asked.

"I think that the best thing to do is to respond to them with more statues," he said. "Disappearance is not what I'm asking for. Nor is it keeping sculptures in city centers to horrify people. What I'm saying is, the answer to negative speech is more speech, positive speech. … It makes sense to have something exist on a monumental level, because this is a monumental conversation that this country needs to have."
Also, check out Mr. Mansour's Black Artists Through History: