african-artists

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Creator spotlight: Floyd E. Norman

Floyd Norman (born June 22, 1935) is an American animator, writer, and comic book artist. Over the course of his career, Norman has worked for a number of animation companies, among them Walt Disney Animation Studios, Hanna-Barbera Productions, Ruby-Spears, Film Roman and Pixar.

Norman had his start as an assistant to Katy Keene comic book artist Bill Woggon, who lived in the Santa Barbara, California area Norman grew up in. In 1956, Norman was employed as an inbetweener on Sleeping Beauty (released in 1959) at Walt Disney Productions, becoming the first African-American artist to remain at the studio on a long-term basis. 

Following his work on Sleeping Beauty, Norman was drafted, and returned to the studio after his service in 1960 to work on One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961) and The Sword in the Stone (1963). After Walt Disney saw some of the inter-office sketches Norman made to entertain his co-workers, he was reassigned to the story department, where he worked with Larry Clemons on the story for The Jungle Book. 

After Walt Disney’s death in 1966, Floyd Norman left the Disney studio to co-found Vignette Films, Inc. with business partner animator/director Leo Sullivan. Vignette Films, Inc. produced six animated films and was one of the first companies to produce films on the subject of black history.  

Norman and Sullivan worked together on various projects, including segments for Sesame Street and the original Hey, Hey, Hey, It’s Fat Albert television special conceived by Bill Cosby, which aired in 1969 on NBC.In 1972, a different Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids Saturday morning cartoon series was produced for CBS by Filmation Associates). In 1999, Norman and Sullivan created a multicultural internet site, afrokids.com, designed to present a variety of African-American images to children.

Norman was a recipient of the Winsor McCay Award for Recognition of lifetime or career contributions to the art of animation at the 2002 Annie Awards. Norman was named a Disney Legend in 2007. 

In 2008, he appeared as Guest of Honor at Anthrocon 2008 and at Comic-Con International, where he was given an Inkpot Award. In 2013 Norman was honored with the “Sergio Award” from The Comic Art Professional Society (CAPS). (X)

Websites: afrokids.com / blog / twitter

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REPRESENT: INTERACTIVE

Q&A with Maori Karmael Holmes: Representing the Greater Arts Community


Maori Karmael Holmes is a curator, a designer, and the producing artistic director and founder of the Black Star Film Festival, affectionately dubbed the “Black Sundance Festival.” Originally from Los Angeles, Maori moved to Philadelphia to attend graduate school and has been here ever since. In June 2013, Maori was part of the discussion panel after the premiere of Afropunk Pictures’ “The Triptych,” the Museum’s first Pay What You Wish program supported by the African American Collections Committee. She continues to support the committee and the Museum by spreading the good word about “Represent: 200 Years of African American Art” and participating in the Q&A series for “Represent”: Interactive.

RI: How do you represent your community, your passion, and what you believe in?

MKH: I’m passionate about sharing super cool stuff with the greater community and that is sometimes in the form of writing about it, documenting it on film, curating series, programming a festival, or producing other people’s artwork. I’m most interested in folks who push boundaries artistically and also have something to say.

RI: Which works from the collection are you excited to see and why?

MKH:  I have always liked the work of painters William Henry Johnson and Jacob Lawrence for their use of gesture; photographers Gordon Parks, Carrie Mae Weems, and Lorna Simpson because at one point I wanted to be a photographer and their work was a huge inspiration; Elizabeth Catlett because she’s so badass; and Faith Ringgold, whose work I’ve long admired for her use of fabric and quilting techniques.

RI: Who are the contemporary artists you might like to see represented in this collection in the future?

MKH: I really love Mickalene Thomas’, Sanford Biggers’, and Wangechi Mutu’s work at the moment. I also have a good friend who is crazy talented and had a piece purchased by the National Museum of Women in the Arts—Amy Sherald.

RI: What current and upcoming projects are you working on now?

MKH: I am working on the 4th annual BlackStar Film Festival at the moment, which will take place July 30 to August 2 here in Philadelphia. The festival takes up the bulk  of my free time, although I’m hoping to carve out some space to shoot a short scripted series very soon.

Follow Maori @karmalux  on Twitter and BlackStar Film Festival @blackstarfest on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram.


BlackStar’s organizers include (back row, left to right) Marla Campbell Harris, Adrienne Kenton, Kamilah Clarke, Michelle Gilliard Houston, Patrice Worthy, and Eugene Haynes and (front row, left to right) Denise Beek, Maori Karmael Holmes, and Lauren Holland.

BlackStar founder Maori Karmael Holmes poses with filmmaker Spike Lee at 2013 film festival. R-SA5A[.

In honor of this glorious #BLACKOUT.


All work I will be posting will be done by fellow young African American Artist and dear friends.

Photographer- Travis Houze

IG- @TravisHouze

I hope you enjoy my post.😊😊😊
Im excited to share!


Follow & I Will Make Sure Before Today Is Over To Return The Love.


IG- @ms_elextricgray

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Interview Feature: “Alien Edits” Series by Loza Maléombho.

We spent a few quick minutes with Abidjan-based designer and creative Loza Maléombho, the mind and force behind her eponymous womenswear label, to talk about something a little outside of the fashion world. 

Over the past few months, she’s posted some highly intriguing portraits on instagram that merge the concepts of selfie culture, self-love and self as muse, partly inspired by her own life experiences, a socially conscious awareness, and exposure to artists such as Frida Kahlo. 

Can you give us a background or explanation behind this project and how it came about?

The concept of Alien Edits came to me rather intuitively and I am still expressing and experimenting as I am writing this, but if I had to pin it I’d say that it came from frustrations about the US judiciary system with its on going discrimination against African Americans and frustrations about social issues that are class, race, culture, sexuality and religious stereotypes, all of which cause a state of alienation on its victims.

In other terms Alien Edits is an effort to bring awareness on social and cultural issues that affect people of my generation and empowers them with uplifting messages of grace, royalty, empathy and elegance in order to push upward. Some symbols include the stretching of the neck for stature and pride and the constant use of the hand as a key element of grace and self validation for example. So I thought: what better and faster way to communicate these ideas than with a selfie?

Your are both subject and photographer. Did the decision to include yourself in these roles come about from practicality, the trend of selfie culture, or some other reason?

Being that I am what I call an impulsive creative, I come across ideas in the middle of making patterns for my collection or while overseeing production in my workshop and tend to become anxious and have fears that someone else will get them unless I realise them right away. Funny enough, I believe Michael Jackson and Albert Einstein suffered from this as well. I rarely have a model on hand to execute them so I make time in chaos for this project.

I also have a weakness for perfection and need to be able to communicate my ideas soundly to someone else, so most of the time I end up executing them myself. Lastly, and this will probably come off narcissistic, but I like to think of myself as my own muse. You will find that a lot of my work is reflective of my own style, some would even say that my models or my sketches look like me. I have spent a lot of time by myself ever since I was little. I would hide in my art projects using myself as a reference, or get lost in my imagination and create a world around myself.

I have always been a loner and that’s how I’ve learned to know, express and appreciate myself. In the words of Frida Kalho, “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.” I can confidently say that I will never go wrong in portraying and expressing a message using myself as a medium. I use a trend available to all, “the selfie culture”, to spread messages that I take to heart. So far so good!

How long do you intend to keep the series going? Are there any plans to showcase this work somewhere?

There are many plans but you’d have to wait and see!! :)

Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Soundcloud | Mixcloud

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Andrew Putter: Native Work (Capetown, South Africa)

Gallery Statement:

This new installation comprises 21 black-and-white photographs of contemporary black Capetonians, in ‘tribal’ or ‘traditional’ costume in the genre of the iconic ethnographic photographer Alfred Martin Duggan-Cronin. These are displayed in a grid alongside the same subjects photographed in colour, where the sitters chose what they wished to wear based on how they see themselves.

'Cognizant of the dangers inherent in Duggan-Cronin's colonial, ethnographic approach to making images, Native Work nevertheless recognises an impulse of tenderness running through his project,’ writes Putter in an article about his project published recently in the journal Kronos: Southern African Histories. ’By trusting this impulse in Duggan-Cronin’s photographs, Native Work attempts to provoke another way of reading these images, and to use them in the making of new work motivated by the desire for social solidarity, a desire which emerges as a particular kind of historical possibility in the aftermath of apartheid.’

By exploring his own complex feelings towards an ideologically tainted but aesthetically compelling visual archive, Putter enters the fraught terrain of ethnographic representation to wrestle with himself about his own complicity, as an artist and a white South African, in this troubled visual legacy. Art critic Alex Dodd writes that this new work ‘constitutes one of those rare instances in which it becomes unmistakably clear to the viewer that the primacy of authorial intention has everything to do with the subtle alchemy that determines the meaning and affective power of images. In this case, the immense respect and tenderness that went into the making of the photographs registers visually as a kind of auratic quality of dignity that shines through each and every portrait.’

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Out of South Africa comes Mary Sibande recognized for her project called,  Long Live the Dead Queen. The exhibition revolves around a character named Sophie Ntombikayise, a maid inspired from her personal family history of four generations involved in domestic work. 

“Sophie’s eyes are always closed as she dreams and desires things that a maid and her family never had. Sibande created the figure in order to pay tribute to her mother, grandmother and her great-grandmother in a four figure sculpture series.  In this, Sibande too becomes the maid, crafting the history of the women in her family.”

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Artwork by Jamaican artist Tamara Natalie Madden

Artist Statement
Tamara has always felt a connection to ‘everyday folk’, the working class, the unseen and unheard, the true warriors of our time. She realized, however, that many people who may have suffered through a similar struggle, did not want to revisit those struggles. With great thought and consideration for her message, she decided to amend her ideas. Inspired, by the golden period of Gustav Klimt and images of royalty from Egypt and West Africa; she decided to turn regular folk into representations of nobility. It seemed, in her view, to be the only way to allow them to be represented and appreciated for who they were intrinsically; kings, queens and warriors, in their own right, who never had a chance to shine, their austere appearance setting the tone for others to judge them. The embellishments with rich fabrics and gold present an opportunity for these people to be seen. The quilted clothing have a double meaning, on one hand representing a sense of distinction, while also allowing for a bit of nostalgia. The birds in the pieces represent a sense of freedom. It was her way of injecting her personal experiences into each painting and remembering her escape and survival from illness and the dialysis machine.

info via ADA

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"I will not accept an inferior position in the art world. Nor have my art called African because I have not correctly and properly given expression to my reality.

I have consistently fought against that kind of philosophy because it is bogus. European artists like Picasso, Braque and Vlaminck were influenced by African art. Everybody sees that and is not opposed to it. But when they see African artists who are influenced by their European training and technique, they expect that African to stick to their traditional forms even if he bends down to copying them.

I do not copy traditional art. I like what I see in the works of people like Giacometti but I do not copy them. I knew Giacometti personally in England, you know. I knew he was influenced by African sculptures. But I would not be influenced by Giacometti, because he was influenced by my ancestors.”

- Ben Enwonwu

October: Highlighting African Art & African Artists

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Sand Sculptors of Durban:

"Most often spotted alongside the pier, armed only with a spade, their hands and imagination, the sand-artists spend their days creating marvellous works of art for public admiration in the hopes of a steady stream of donations as this is often their only means of survival. Passers-by sometimes offer extra money so they can be photographed with these works of art, some of which can take up to a week to complete depending on size and detail, only to be destroyed in minutes. 
So why do their creators make them? Some of these guys are homeless teenagers - sculpting often means they don’t have to go to bed on an empty stomach. For others, the money they make is used to travel to and from home, or to pay for shelter for the night.” (Source)

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I think black people have to be in control of their own image, [not] just sit back and let other people define our existence. Spike Lee

Jean Michel-Basquiat / Painter

Gordon Parks / Photographer

Spike Lee / Filmmaker

Tyree Guyton / Installation/Painter

Selma Burke / Sculptor

Kara Walker /Paper Sculptor

Jacob Lawrence / Painter

Jackie Ormes / Cartoonist

Women in Africa and the Diaspora: “Hungry Aba Gal”

Known for her long yarn braids and afro that touches the sun, Yagazie Ledi Francisca Emezi is an Igbo (Nigerian) and Tamil (Malaysian) artist born and raised in Aba, Nigeria. With two degrees in Cultural Anthropology and Africana Studies, she is dedicated to cultural preservation within the African community.

Yagazie is not only a talented artist and hairspiration for many women, but also a source of hope for those battling with an eating disorder. Openly sharing her battle with bulimia on her now defunct blog Hungry Aba Gal, Yagazie was able to bring light to an issue that is rarely addressed within African communities.

In whatever it is that she does, Yagazie freely expresses herself and her love for Africa. Rise Africa received the opportunity to interview Yagazie. Here’s what she had to say…

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Jackie Ormes (August 1, 1911 – December 26, 1985) is known as the first African American female cartoonist. Her strips, featuring the lovable characters Torchy Brown, Candy, Patty-Jo, and Ginger, appeared in the Chicago Defender and Pittsburgh Courier in the 1930s - 1950s. 

Jackie Ormes said, “No more…Sambos…Just KIDS!” and she transformed her attractive, spunky Patty-Jo cartoon character into the first upscale American black doll. At long last, here was an African American doll with all the play features children desired: playable hair, and the finest and most extensive wardrobe on the market, with all manner of dresses, formals, shoes, hats, nightgowns, robes, skating and cowgirl costumes, and spring and winter coat sets, to name a few. (Jackie Ormes Online)