Reflections of Blackness: How to Create a Space That Affirms Your Humanity
We are dealing with the continued uncertainty of the pandemic, the stress of the recent elections, the anxiety of tumultuous racial tensions, and the distance between us and our loved ones.
In the midst of all this, Dr. Jeffreen Hayes, PhD, says that our homes can become a source of comfort.
“Home is supposed to be the only place you can be yourself,” she says.
Hayes is an art historian, curator, and executive director of three wall chicago, a contemporary art organization. She believes that now is the time more than ever for people to make their home a reflection of what gives them life.
Our home can “remember [us] that while there is so much death around us and we are confined to a space, there is still life going on,” says Hayes.
And to get evidence of the life that happens around us, we only need to turn to the arts.
Despite current conditions, art can continue to be a way of expressing and experiencing our humanity.
And while we may not be able to go to a museum, poetry contest or art walk during the pandemic, we can surround ourselves with inspiring and life-affirming art every day.
The following artists are Women of Color (WOC) who bring hope and inspiration with work that reflects the beauty of Black people and Black culture.
marsha hatchet is a visual artist who works in acrylic. His subject matter most often involves people of color.
Hatcher’s goal as an artist is to make people who see her work think about what he has captured in his painting, not just seeing it.
She also wants to see more representation in art.
“We as a community need to support locally what we would like to see nationally. Success in anything we do must start at home,” she says.
Hatcher practices what she preaches by surrounding herself with art in her own home, with works by herself and other artists of color.
“Each work of art has an identity, a memory or a story associated with it. My home is a reflection of what I am passionate about, my safe place where I believe and find peace,” he says.
Princess Simpson Rashid
Princess Simpson Rashid specializes in painting and engraving. She creates abstract work that emphasizes energy, movement, and color.
“I often use non-objective abstraction to investigate how people move and navigate spaces that are not designed for them,” says Rashid.
His most recent work focuses on the expression of black joy through abstraction.
Rashid wants collectors of her work to not only support her career, but also keep in touch and get to know her.
“We strengthen each other by supporting each other…building our own table instead of waiting for others to accept or validate our work,” she says.
Rashid wants viewers of his work to be open to polymathic thinking and empathic thinking. Likewise, he surrounds himself with original art as well as books on art, science, philosophy, and poetry.
“Art is powerful and can help us heal and even dream,” says Rashid. “It can help protect a sense of peace in a space. He can bless you in whatever time you decide to spend with him and really show off.”
erin kendrick the work has layers: there is the painting, and then there is the installation that goes with the painting.
She says her goal is to build or deconstruct a narrative.
“I do my best to tell stories that humanize black women,” says Kendrick.
In Kendrick’s work, the viewer is both the observer and the subject as they stare into the eyes of the girls and women who stare back at them. This breaking of the fourth wall includes the viewer in the construction of a new story.
“We control the narrative,” she says. “We, as contemporary artists and collectors, are the record keepers of our own truths.”
As an artist, Kendrick surrounds herself with things that she feels emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually connected to, such as furniture, plants, and art.
Buying pictures for the walls is not the only way to beautify the space with works of art.
“The way relics and objects of material culture are displayed in our homes connects us to our lineage, to our history, to beauty,” says Hayes. “It is a very intimate space, and it is a space that also requires a kind of sacredness because it is our home, and it is an extension of your heart.”
feminist writer bell hooks noted that the black house is the first gallery space many black people show up to.
These next three creatives are part of Black Owned Etsy Shops. Your work offers the opportunity to make your home an extension of your heart.
cristina springer is a Pittsburgh-based artisan who creates black women’s lifestyle items. These items include blankets, luxury bath towels, cushions, mugs, socks, hoodies and more.
Springer says the driving force behind his store is that black people deserve to be seen everywhere, especially at home.
“Not everyone can afford original fine art gallery prices, but [almost] everyone can afford a decorative pillow,” says Springer.
His work reflects the political and spiritual spirit of the African diaspora.
A series called “Everyday Kwanzaa” reminds people to practice Kwanzaa rituals at all times. Another, “Cada Día Divino”, reflects on the Orisha, or deities, of the Traditional African religious practice Ifá.
Springer, who has 30 years of practice in multiple artistic disciplines, says that the home can be a haven where everyone, especially black women, can feel safe and supported.
“If we can exercise a small reminder of our destiny to reach our higher self, if we can exercise that little bit of control over our visual reality, then we can see ways in which we could exercise control over another part of our life…until we are closer to that. the whole,” she says.
Your home is an important part of your environment, but so is your body and how you adorn it.
Alice Goodwin she creates elegant, sculptural jewelry and has been selling on Etsy since 2006. She enjoys working with gold and textures to add depth and symbolism to her work.
Goodwin wants the people who use his work to realize that they can do anything.
“Anyone who appreciates good work and/or craftsmanship is the right person for me,” says Goodwin. “I don’t care who uses it, as long as it feels good and respects the work.”
Goodwin says she creates work for herself first, but has been impressed by how many people appreciate her art. She believes that the current state of things in the United States makes this the best time for people to get to know themselves, including their likes and dislikes.
“There could be more freedom [soon] being able to explore yourself and what you enjoy,” says Goodwin.
If the body is part of your environment, so is the skin you live in.
Latoya Johnston is the creative behind the Brooklyn-based skincare line Fresh Seed Glow. His company specializes in products made with natural and organic ingredients.
The small-batch line includes face serums, lavender water toner, and a rose-infused body scrub. All products are chemical-free and designed to pamper skin from head to toe.
Johnston founded his company when he embarked on his own journey to find natural hair and skin products. She says she wants customers to feel good about the quality of her skin care line.
“I take the time to select each and every product,” says Johnston.
She believes in being aware of what is around you and what is going on in your body.
Whatever your needs, you can find ways to imbue your surroundings with meaning, comfort and beauty.
A little card goes a long way
You may not be the type to send cards or letters, but it’s easy to find stationery with beautiful art prints. A mini frame is all you need to display it in style.
use what you already have
What is already in your house that is beautiful? Maybe you have forgotten.
Take it out of the closet and put it on display.
“I was given a really beautiful African blanket years ago, and I put it aside,” says Hayes. “During the pandemic I took it out.”
Dig through your belongings to find things you treasure and let them see the light.
Patronize the arts in your community
Acquiring unique pieces that speak to your soul may be more accessible than you think.
Both Hayes and Kendrick suggest contacting an artist to commission a piece within your budget. You may be able to work out a payment plan that allows you to support the arts and creatives in your community.
“Really look around and see who in your community is a manufacturer that might appreciate an application,” says Hayes.
This appreciation works both ways and can create generational wealth, according to Kendrick.
“The art collection is also a solid investment. Most works of art appreciate to some extent over time and can be passed down from generation to generation,” he says.
Go ahead: surround yourself with provocative art, decorate your home with meaningful items, adorn yourself with unique jewelry, or pamper your skin and hair.
Your home, your body and your environment can be a reflection of beauty, culture and life.
Give Elise Williams is a news producer and two-time Emmy Award-winning author. Nikesha’s first novel, “four women”, received the 2018 Florida Association of Authors and Publishers President’s Award in the Adult Literary/Contemporary Fiction category. “Four Women” was also recognized by the National Association of Black Journalists as Outstanding Literary Work. His latest novel isBeyond Bourbon Street.”