This past Saturday, Manhattan College Multicultural Center and Silent Noise Publishing Groups presented #BlackArtMatters, an event that showcased the talents of several Black poets, painters and photographers.
One of the artists, Tasha Douge, is a conceptual artist who also uses mixed media in her work. She is dedicated to creating art that challenges conventional ways of thinking.
“I take things that are familiar and transcend them,” Douge said. “I want to convey a message to women, empower them and make them feel good.”
One of her pieces, titled “A Song of You,” is inspired by songs that influence women. She compiled 34 song titles into a letter, which starts with “Dear Beautiful” and is signed with “From One Queen to Another.” Everything in between is a beautiful message of encouragement for women.
Another striking aspect of this piece is that Douge also includes a soundtrack for viewers to listen to while reading it. It features clips of the songs that are mentioned within the letter, such as “Flaws and All,” “Titanium,” “I’m Every Woman,” “Fight Song” and “Greatest Love of All.”
Douge also enjoys taking objects that are deemed ugly and making them beautiful, and touches on the fact that women of color have a greater struggle with self-acceptance, which she understands and has had to endure herself.
One of her pieces is entirely inspired by negative words that are used against women, which she uses masks to represent. “This is about recognizing the value of being black and wiping those negative words away,” Douge said.
Elizabeth Banuelos, a mixed media artist who was born and raised in Los Angeles, draws her inspiration from the world.
“My art is my interpretation of society and how it views women. All of my paintings have hidden messages,” Banuelos said. One of her paintings is of a woman, but she is entirely made up of words that Banuelos burned onto the canvas.
Natalie Sturgess is a writer and painter based in Brooklyn. She admits that her painting is an emotional outlet for her.
“I wait and I look at something until it talks to me. I’m a booker for a catering company, so stress is always super high at work – painting is a relief for me,” Sturgess said.
What is especially intriguing is that many of her pieces are painted on objects that she finds, for instance, one of her abstract paintings was done on a slate of wood that she found on a walk one day.
Kelly Prevard, an acrylic painter, garners her inspiration from racial and social issues.
“A lot of my pieces are very political. They’re a statement about the world through my eyes,” Prevard said. “One of them portrays the experience of a young black child in America.”
All of this African American female art sparks an important conversation, and from it there emerges a strong sense of understanding and hope.