artist spotlight

Wangechi Mutu

I can't get enough of Wangechi Mutu's artwork and her words. Her collage paintings are not only fantastical and visually explosive in that what-is-she-thinking-about and how-she-do-that-kind-of ways, but they are replete with symbols representing wealth, consumption, colonization, globalism and eroticisim of the Black female body, just to name a few.  

The female form and femininity looms large in Wangechi's work. She says she's committed her life with talking about herself and women who look like her. Women, for Wangechi, are magnificent, mysterious and powerful. I second all of that.

To learn more about Wangechi Mutu, I suggest watching this (long and rich) or this (short and sweet). To see more of her work, do check out her incredibly creative website

Like these artists spotlights? Do check out the archives <<CLICK HERE>>

in love and art,
cd

Carmen Herrera

Sometimes a whole industry can be so focused on one thing that it completely ignores the other equally important things happening at the same time. What Cuban artist Carmen Herrera was doing the 1950s was one of those important things.

Abstract Expressionists artists like Jackson Pollack, Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning with their bold, brazen and expressive styles ruled the day. Carmen Herrera offered something much different - a highly distilled form of abstraction that focused on a limited color palette and tightly controlled composition. As she has explained, “I had to forget about the trimmings and go to the core of things.”

When you put it all together - her superior but not popular painting style plus being a woman plus being an immigrant and when you put that all together - it’s no guessing why she was overlooked. Damn you sexism, racism and xenophobia. 

Carmen Herrera resisted though. She kept painting. She stayed true to her vision and love of the straight line.

She’s 101 years old now and her artwork is finally getting the focused attention it deserves. I’m super grateful to have seen her work up close at the Whitney Museum a few months ago. The show closed two days ago.

Carmen Herrera created much of the work exhibited in Lines of Sight, between the years of 1948-1978 (a mere 30 years). While an impressive show, it’s a very limited one. Carmen Herrera has painted for over 70 years and this particular show captures only a sliver of that. I left the show wanting to see so much more. I have new found respect for the straight line thanks to Carmen Herrera. 

I managed to snap a few shots of the work right before my camera died but you can header to the Whitney Museum’s website to feast on more of Carmen Herrera’s work and hear more from the artist herself in the film The 100 Years Show. Enjoy! #fineartforeveryone

Artist: Carmen Herrera b. 1915 Havana, Cuba (she currently lives and works in NYC)
Medium: Acrylic paint mostly
Thoughts from the artists: “
Fun fact: Carmen sold her first painting at age 89!

Want to learn some inexpensive ways to see and buy art? Check out A Beginner's Guide to Collecting Art. It's FREE. 

in art and love,
cd

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye is probably a household name now thanks to Solange's A Seat at Table album, but many of us art lovers and art makers have been crushing on her for years now. I can't quite remember when I first discovered her work, but I do remember the first piece of hers that pulled me in. It was Mason's Yard. The colors, the composition, and the brush strokes just makes you want to stop and stare.

And if you're a people watcher like I am, you can't help but wonder what's on this woman's mind. Is she thinking about her partner being late for their date or the sermon Pastor preached that morning?

It's up to you to fill in the gaps of the story. 

In a 2010 interview with Nadine Rubin Nathan in the New York Times Magazine, Yiadom-Boakye described her compositions as “suggestions of people...They don’t share our concerns or anxieties. They are somewhere else altogether.” This lack of fixed narrative leaves her work open to the projected imagination of the viewer. (Jack Shaman Gallery | Artist Profile)

A R T W O R K  F A C T: Each of Lynette's paintings are completed in one day. Doing so helps preserve the mood and the artist's stream of consciousness. Two words: prolific. genius.

And then there's Complication, the now extremely well-known Lynette Yiadom-Boakye piece that inspired Solange's Don't Touch My Hair song from her recent album A Seat at the Table. Read more about artists inspiring artists over on the CRWN blog.  

in love and art,
cd

Basil Kincaid

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Instead of squirreling this incredible artwork away and promising myself to whip up a tidy blog post soonish, I'm sharing it now. Basil Kincaid's work seized my attention today and for that I'm grateful. Good art will do that to you sometimes. It will seize your attention and get you focusing on what's most important. 

Creative entrepreneurship is taking it's toll on me emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I question even if I'm cut out to do any of this. Is my work good enough? How will I make money? Should I just get a full time job now instead of later? What the hell am I doing trying to be a full-time artist at 36 (soon to be 37 in a few short days)? I feel sick most days.

But then I take some deep breaths and get back to my work. Underneath all the uncertainty I'm feeling, I really do believe that I can do this, that I can figure out how to live a full and fully supported creative life.

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in love and art,
cd

Olivia Pendergast

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There is something so familiar about Olivia Pendergast’s art. The colors, tones and expressions of her subjects are just memorizing. Sometimes art catches me and I am like “WHOA now that is dope,” or “Artist Z is so talented, how she do that?” And then there are other times when I experience art and am lost for words. I simply settle in and stare at myself staring back at me.

What art offers is space – a certain breathing room for the spirit. – John Updike

in art and love,
cd

 

ruby onyinyechi amanze

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I love it when I stumbled upon artwork that makes me stop, stare, and think and if it includes assemblage (collage) of any kind, I am pretty much smitten. The work of ruby onyinyechi amanze (lowercase: artist's preference) definitely has me smitten and contemplating the importance of space - empty space, negative space, breathing space - in telling a story. She describes here ongoing series aliens, hybrids and ghosts as...

"Exisiting somewhere between constructed reality, fantasy, memory and imagination, these creatures and their adventures reflect the layered experiences of people who live in-between worlds and whose fluid identity is not grounded in a singular geography or permanence-based, notion of home. In this space, creatures find authenticity, wholeness and freedom in their ability to simultaneously belong nowhere and everywhere. In this world, they play."

Aaaah PLAY! Now that's my kind of world. What about you? Share your thoughts on ruby onyinyechi amanze's work in the comments, I would love to hear them.

in art and love,
cd

Kerry James Marshall

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I saw this beauty up close recently at the MET Breuer and one word - OMAHGAWD! Just breathtaking. Mr. Marshall's uber black figures are like magnets - they hook your gaze and pull you in! It's all intentional according to Marshall.

In an article I recently read of on ARTNews, Mr. Marshall remarked:

“There needs, at some point,” he said in his MCA talk, “to be a critical mass of images in the museum that have [black figures in them], so that when you go there…[i]t’s not something that is the exception to the rule, it’s part of what you always expect to see. That’s success to me.”
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Artist on a mission. #dope #gamechanger #boss #IwannabedrivenlikeMarshall Ok, I will quit the hashtaggery and leave you will a few more of brilliant works of art made by Kerry James Marshall.

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A major museum survey of Mr. Marshall's work is currently on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA) and will be heading to NYC's Metropolitan Museum of Art this fall (YAY **emoji praise hands**) followed by a final show at the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles in the spring of 2017. If you're anywhere near those cities, RUN don't walk to see Marshall's gorgeous and heavy work.

in art and love,
cd

p.s. special thanks to my bestie who joined me at MET Breuer and snapped the picture of me ooohing and aaaahing Marshall's work.