I have always loved art. I love music and song and percussion. Music helps me to retreat from the hecticness of this life. But I have been blessed by peace thru my art. Apparently, others didn’t see all of that when my art was shown. I believe that sometimes our art expresses what we are not feeling on the surface.
I was in this one exhibit. I did not post my photo because I thought it was vain. I also know what a hypercrite I am. So I listened to the patrons of the arts as they visited my room, or section. In this case it was a room, because it was a renovated architecturally authentic home from the days of old. But still parts were a replica. These kind people juried me into their gallery.
The responses were surprisingly good. Some of the reactions felt odd to me. This has happened more than once. I introduced myself as the artist. These patrons of the arts are there to sincerely look at the work that we do.
What made, and makes me sad, is that these kind people oft times mentioned to me that, “Kathy, maybe you should do more black art.” Then there was the kind smile. I’m black and I’m an artist! What’s the problem. The problem is marketibility. I didn’t get it at my first show. It took me a while to realize what these people were telling me. What is black art?
I go shopping for a bathroom rug at Ross and it hits me! I see paintings of women carrying baskets on their heads. Paintings of giraffes. A beautiful ‘painting’ of a black woman in a big hat! Oh! I see. My mountains are not ethnic enough. I now have to paint a picture of our struggle as black people. Is that the only message that I can send to the world? I like giraffes as much as the next person. But if I don’t do that, am I not IN as an artist? I am a multi-layered human being. I happen to be a black woman. I feel no responsibility to paint to the masses according to always thinking about the oppression that the news tells me I’m supposed to feel which I actually don’t. I did once try to paint about the beauty of motherhood as I had four small ones at home at that time. It was a woman holding a child. I couldn’t get this sense of dread off of her face nor from her eyes. I questioned my own motherhood. I gave it a week. So I turned her into a big red mountain with a stream around it. I loved that one. I love being a mother. The truth is…sometimes its hard.
What I love is that true freedom that comes to me through art. Even when I’m looking at an old masterpiece, I absorb the work. I feel as though I am there with every stroke of the brush and how the artist had to tilt the arm to get that angle of stroke. I am there.
This painting is called Mother Mary by Kathy Hatch