the favorite painting that i have created
inner struggles of self
16×20″ acrylic on stretched canvas, 1999
original painting ::: private collection
the story ::: i painted ‘inner struggles’ during my first art history class at the university of michigan in 1998. throughout the course, we discussed the significance of race in art and media. the discussions often made me think about my own background, and how my mixed-race background shapes my artwork. i didn’t want to be categorized as “black art” or “main stream art” or feel limited to paint certain kinds of people. i always enjoyed living the best of both worlds, between the black and white family and friends. i went home that afternoon and began painting feverishly, and didn’t stop until I had created this painting. at the time i didn’t know what to call the piece or even how to explain it. perhaps years of reflection have given me the knowledge to see myself more clearly through my work and express it here to you.
this painting is a representation of those inner struggles that occur within people when they think about being black, white, brown, or purple. i painted the person in the middle in grey, to symbolize the combination of both. added colorful tones as the forces in the world and within us that try and influence our minds. there are those people who tell me i am not black enough, or want to feel my hair. or those who approach me speaking spanish because they assume i am too ::: we have to accept them all.
it tears my heart apart to think of all the racism and elitism we have endured, and how much of that still exists today. i know that one drop makes me sweeter and naturally brown and i love that part most of all. however, i should not choose to be one or the other, black or white.
i no longer get offended at the questions about my color and race. instead i use it as an opportunity to educate and remind them that i am a person first. people are many things, and above all we are all artists who merely needs to be encouraged to come out and create something unique.