Art Feature: AFRICA IN AMERICA
Art has always been a creative catalyst for emotions, thoughts, inspiration, and even activism.
Well there is a group of talented young artist on the brink of creating a new artistic revolution entitled: AfricaInAmerica. Over the weekend I attended the AfricaInAmerica art exhibit held within the garage space of the Tiny Cup Cafe located at 279 Nostrand Avenue in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn.
The exhibit displayed pieces from Carisa Bledsoe and fellow blogger, Anthony J. Thomas, among a few others.
I got the amazing opportunity to interview both Thomas and Bledsoe about their works, their creative process, and their goals for themselves and their community.
"I'm an artist, all encompassing" -- Carisa Bledsoe
This young lady, originally from Memphis, Tennessee found her way to the big apple through her internship with the STREB Dance Company located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. She has been drawing her entire life and even studies interart performance at the University of Michigan. AfricaInAmerica is her first art showing in New York, and hopefully, not her last.
24 Hours, pt. 1
This piece focuses on sex, and the lust for sex.
24 Hours pt. 2
Energy of feelings. Storyline of sexual thoughts and emotions evoked by them.
Perfect Line (Center piece)
Reaction to impact. Shapes created by muscles.
Leave It At The Cross
Battle between sexuality and religion, and finding a place of comfort between the two.
When Carisa Bledsoe first started taking her art work seriously, she begun with plants and flowers, saying that she would tape 8x12 inch sheets of paper together to make a larger homemade canvas to paint her flowers on. As the years went, she found herself "naturally maturing" with her art, following an artist training track, and having a more focused message for her work. She states that now her art speaks for her mind, but she still goes with the "ebbs and flows" when it comes to her creations.
24 Hours pt. 1 was the first piece that Carisa got the opportunity to use an actual model besides herself. Working with others is "personal and fun", she states. But her "supreme pleasure" is having the energy of someone she likes around her during her artistic process. She says that the energy she receives from that special someone can be shown in her color choice, as displayed in 24 Hours pt. 2. And with all the yellows, pinks and light blues - the piece itself is a flirt!
Lastly, Carisa hopes that people can learn to "embrace themselves" through her work. She wants them to appreciate their own beauty, along with the beauty of others and to find happiness and contentment with their anatomy. She fears people might see her work as degrading and objectifying towards women, but that is the last thing this talented beautiful young women, and her art is doing.
"I just wanna make good work" -- Anthony J. Thomas
Born and raised in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, Anthony J. Thomas feels it his duty to empower the African American community, especially black men. He is an artist, photographer, clothing designer, blogger, entrepreneur, and all around inspiring individual. This man believes in black excellence, and will stop at nothing until he receives it.
Statement on how the value of art has decreased from the 80's. The 11 stripes represent the 11 most impoverished and dangerous states within America.
Charlotte's Webé, Officer
Inspired by Pablo Picasso.
Charlotte's Webé, Anthony
Because of his arrhythmia, Anthony's life is a gift.
Charlotte's Webé, African American Male
Inspired by Salvador Dali's Presence of Memory piece
Charlotte's Webé, Matisse Didn't Show Up
Inspired by Henri Matisse and his creation of color theory.
Anthony is a "primitive" artist, completely untrained. But he doesn't call what he does painting, instead he says its "creating history, innovations". He gets his works from (figuratively) having sex with some of the world's greatest artists, and then producing their baby, which is his art. He uses other major influential artist as his muses to create better, modern, more relative art pieces. Anthony's work is a form of neo-expressionism, with Jean-Michael Basquiat being his main mentor.
After studying at John Jay, he felt there was a need for more African American art, thus the birth of the AfricaInAmerica movement. "We were kidnapped", and therefore we have the right to have something that is ours. We are "Africa in America", struggling black families in the US trying to find a piece of mind. "It's a jungle, but it's beautiful" he states.
"I want to change the world", and that being the physical world and mental mindset that African Americans live in. Anthony wants better for his people. "We deserve it, we were stolen!" he proclaims. And AfricaInAmerica is his way of creating more "intellectual brothers and sisters."
The main thing this young man urges is for people to be true to themselves, and he hopes to set an example for others to do so. "To do me is soul, this is life... My mother had me to be a gem, not to be a rock." His words of wisdom to the world are: "You don't need academic training, just do you! Your first piece in life is love... Put God first, pray, and believe in your dreams."
The closing reception had featured spoken word performances by Distinguished and Brooklyn of Untamed Talent. Also, there was a special live painting from artist Amanda Spruill, Carisa Bledsoe, and Anthony Thomas during a reading by Howie Borden.
The overall engagement was absolutely amazing. The people, the music, the food, and the art were all beautiful and I am honored to now be a part of the #AfricaInAmerica movement. I hope that you will join me.
Here are some extra shots from the event:
Photos by Shane Velazquez