It’s February and the Culture Shock Art Artist a Day challenge is back for its 4th year! I’m excited to bring you some incredible artists whose work I will share every day this month. Some posts will include narrative bios of the artists, while in other posts I will let the art speak for itself. My goal is to expose you to black artists who are not only shaping culture and creating the canon, they are also expanding the boundaries of contemporary art.
The theme for this challenge is Mapping Midpoints. As I was compiling artists to present here, I started to notice that many are mid-career, at a point where they are grappling with what that means within the context of their work; others have had significant turning points in their lives that influenced their creative process. For those of us who have been in professions/careers for years who may have been defined by their work, the midpoint can be a daunting time where we ask ourselves what we want to be known for. It may also be a time where we re-evaluate our values and reassess the things that make us happy or keep us challenged.
For years I’ve worked in an industry that’s markedly different from the art world, and I took a sabbatical from my career in marketing and insurance to expand my knowledge of the art world. My freelance writing and the work I’ve presented here on Culture Shock Art continues to feed my spirit, challenge my thinking and expand my worldview. Every artist I highlight here (including the countless works I encounter that don’t wind up here), broadens my perspective and strengthens me. It is my hope that an artist you see here inspires you to learn and grow.
The image used in this post is a painting by Jack Whitten called Tracking Code: For Bill Haywood Rivers, AKA Big Blue. Haywood “Bill” Rivers was one of Jack Whitten’s contemporaries who studied art in New York and at the École du Musée du Louvre in Paris. His works are held in the collections of the Baltimore Museum and La Musee d’Art Moderne in Paris. Rivers’ figurative work began to transform into more abstract paintings inspired by quilting, a process that harkened back to his childhood roots in North Carolina.