A people without knowledge of it's past is like a tree without roots - Marcus Garvey (political leader)
I have a small collection of Black Americana memorabilia from the 1920's - 60's
It's mostly advertisements and figurines and I realize this post might offend some. But that's what art is, subjective and if it makes you feel something, good, bad, or ugly, it's done it's job. As a woman of color I have the attitude of reclaiming these horribly beautiful items to minimize the power they may have once had. I used to display them all over the house, but when "my space" became "our space" I had to make some adjustments, Hubz didn't care for them so they've all been moved into my home office or carefully packaged away. I think that's why I'm so drawn to Michael Ray Charles' work.
I first discovered his art at Barry Whistler Gallery which at the time was located in Deep Ellum, Dallas, Tx. The piece that got my attention was a giant canvas of a curvy dark skinned woman lying upside down, legs up, with the words something to the effect of "Big Mama's House of Links" in big letters across the top. I was drawn to it immediately. It was bright, vibrant, powerful, humorous, in your face, completely relate-able, and sold. Not that I could have afforded it, I was in my early 30's, had just bought my first house and the idea of owning original art of that magnitude was a pipe dream. I've never seen it again but have followed his work ever since. For me it strikes that same sensibility of my collection, combining America's dark history of the stereotypical black caricatures' message of ignorance and bigotry of not so long ago with a modern perception of people of color in the platform of advertising media, product packaging, etc. with incredible imagery.
And while his work has been shown in galleries and auction houses all over the country, he seems to keep somewhat of a low profile. He's not even on Instagram! Scandalous.
I would LOVE to meet him, own one of his original pieces and would display it proudly in my home office, with the rest of my collection.