Black Power is giving power to people who have not had power to determine their destiny.
I’m working on a painting in response to the new spirit of protest that has broken out across America. Folks have had it with police brutality. Mass Incarceration. The War on Drugs. And the lack of accountability from elected officials.
We’re tired of being ignored by the authorities. We want better. We demand better.
From Black Lives Matter. To the U of Missouri student protest. To demands for the mayor of Chicago to step down. Protest means more now than it’s meant in decades.
My painting is an attempt to capture this spirit. The image is meant to pay tribute to modern protest and tie it in with black power protests from the past. We have to deal with present concerns in an open, honest and urgent way. But we must also remember the lessons of the past.
What Black Power Means To MeTo me black power is the only chance black folks have to be truly free. To build self-reliance and self – determination. And it’s nothing to be afraid of.
Unless the idea of a powerful African American community scares you.
We need Black Power to be more than a slogan. It needs to be fully realized. We need more power to control our own lives. We need more power to educate our kids in the right way.
The idea of Black Power isn’t racist. It’s not an expression of black supremacy. But it does call for African American leadership in areas that directly affect our community. It calls for smart, educated black folks to step up to the plate and lead.
Black Power also doesn’t mean loyalty to a political party. African American voters have cast billions of votes over the years. At least 90% of them have gone for the Democratic Party.
Right now Democratic Party presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are both searching for ways to harness Black Power. They’re actively courting the approval of the Black Lives Matter movement. Democrats hope to use BLM to get out the black vote. And hopefully carry Democrats to victory in 2016.
Great for them. Maybe not so great for us. This has potential to go horribly wrong. We could get sold down the river once again. We don’t need BLM to become a pawn of the Democratic Party.
This work is mostly an oil painting. But it does contain other materials. Namely wax and oil pastels.
My color choices for this painting are mostly in the range of dark, cool hues. I’m using what is formally known as the split compliment color scheme. This is simply painting with three closely related colors plus one color that sits opposite to them on the color wheel.
Below is an example of this scheme using blue-violet, violet and red-violet. The split compliment is yellow.
On my painting the three related colors are violet, red-violet, and red. These colors all contain some amount of red. That’s why they’re considered to be related.
The split- compliment on my painting is yellow-green. This color sits directly opposite of red-violet on the color wheel. Within this scheme the split-compliment can be used in various ways.
It can be used as an undercoating. It could be background color. It can be used in small amounts as a highlight or accent color. Or. It can be mixed in with every other color in the painting.
In this case the split-compliment yellow-green is used as a highlight color. It can be found in various places around the image.
The action of the picture shows a black power protest in progress. Fists are raised high in defiance (the old black power salute). The police are coming in from the left. They’re responding with the usual violence and aggression. They are heavily armed. With guns drawn.
The people enter the scene through a blackened archway on the right. The arch represents the church. The church represents truth. And the roots of the black community.
The light of truth comes shining into the frame from the upper left. This is symbolic of truths that are now coming to light. Things that used to be shoved under the rug and forgotten are regularly exposed for the world to see.
What happened to Miss Sandra Bland in Texas is a crying shame. We may never know exactly what happened. But at least we know her name.
A few years ago her story and others like it would have been known mostly to her family and friends. Just a quick item in the local newspaper. Or a 30 second spot on local TV news. This is part of how “they” have gotten away with things like this for so long.
Darkness and isolation is a key part of oppression. All of the stats we hear about police abuse are rough estimates. The government doesn’t allow accurate numbers to be recorded. How’s that for isolation and darkness?
Finally. This is a dark – toned painting. Of all of things an artist does in a painting, deciding on a pattern of lights and darks is probably the most important.
Dark paintings have a heavy, serious tone. In this case the darker composition is fits the subject perfectly.
The tone determines the overall mood or feeling of the work. Most paintings that fail do so because the artist doesn’t understand the mood they’re trying to set. Or how to get there. I think this one is well on its way.
In 2016 I plan to follow this one up with other images about police abuse. The power of protest. The re-birth of our community. And hopes for a brighter future.