Finding Black Joy
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what we’ve lost. How could we not? We’ve lost family, friends, and loved ones due to COVID. We’ve lost Black lives because of police malfeasance, too many to comprehend. And the mental anguish associated with the current racial reckoning seems never ending. Even our anniversaries are fraught. The first anniversary of George Floyd’s death. Juneteenth is a reminder of the two years of freedom stolen from us when slavery ended. The 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre is heart-wrenching, even more so because of the efforts to discredit it as part of history that demands recompense.
Yet, in my conversations with artists, gallery owners, collectors, and others we all agree it is time to grasp some Black joy from this miasma caused by these colliding disasters. It’s indisputable there is so much joy to be derived from art. My very first post-vaccination trip was to Atlanta to visit artists and galleries. I quickly followed that up with a visit to New York. So much art. Grief and Grievances at the New Museum; Sandford Bigger’s sculpture Oracle in Rockefeller Center; the murals of Harlem. Being in the presence of so much life affirming art, talking art, and yes, buying art has been soul-satisfying.
To talk with Jamelle Wright (featured on the April cover of ART) and Charly Palmer and gallerists September Gray, September Gray Fine Art, and Oton Atim Annette, Calabar Gallery, was akin to immersing myself in Black resilience and joy. I think Palmer summed it up best for me, perhaps for you too, when he said, “Stop questioning the spirit and the message, and go for it.” You can hear his entire conversation with Pigment International™ on our YouTube Channel — http://bit.ly/PINTLYouTube. His was our first Pigment Art Talk.
I hope you are getting out as well and I hope you’ll see some art when you do, perhaps one of the artists featured in this edition of ART. Artists like Pamella Allen, in New York. She’s an artist, teacher, photographer, author, and installation artist. And she’s loving doing it all. The Continent is brimming with more artists, museums, and art events than during any time in history, and London-based author Elisabeth Prah lays out for us why you must experience West African art now. How do Black members of the State Department’s diplomatic corps commemorate the United Nations International Decade of People of African Descent? With art of course.
Lastly, read how Jamaican immigrant, Canadian raised, Sean Green, CEO of Arternal, helped to move the staid art industry to use tech tools to track how works move within the art ecosystem.
We all need family, friends, and faith to get from where we are now, to what comes next. And that does not mean a return to what was. What we need is to push forward to what comes next, to better. When we next come upon these anniversaries, they will be tempered by the enlightenment we’ve gained, the progress we made, the restitutions made, the reconciliations, and the joy we are stepping into.
Patricia Andrews-Keenan is the publisher of Pigment Magazine. Visit www.pigmentintl.com