by: Ayanna NajumaNa

For those interested in African American art, the place to be from October 27-29, 2017 is in Houston, Texas.  Artists, art historians, art collectors and folks that just love the art and culture of African Americans will have an opportunity to enjoy the historical and contemporary work of 50 artist as well as hear from experts in the art world that all collecting, writing and creating exceptional bodies of work at the Black Art in America Fine Art Show being hosted at the Buffalo Soldier National Museum, 3816 Caroline Street, Houston, Texas.

What makes this Show so special? Now for the backstory – Number One – The collaborative effort of like minded people.

As far back as kindergarten, founder and curator Najee Dorsey has had an interest in telling the stories of African Americans in a creative and visual way.  He sold his first piece of work at the age of five to his mother to buy candy. Now, 40 years later with no academic training in business or communications, his work is sold globally, has been exhibited in ten museums and he is providing an opportunity for other artist to do the same.

“When William ‘Slim’ Tucker Discovered the Crossroads” by Najee Dorsey

How is success defined?  Who interprets the value of the work?  Who creates one’s existence?

Dorsey has exhibited in Atlanta, New Orleans, New York, Miami, Chicago and Philadelphia and many other cities around the country and every step of the way he has met dealers, artist, university professors and other media professionals.  Conversations about the role of African Americans in the art world were being questioned. Numerous fine arts shows have been hosted in the past that proved that there is a market for exceptional bodies of work, that collectors are willing to support the artist and according to Dorsey, he believes that the people determine what is aesthetically appealing.

Historically, there are many artists like Elizabeth Catlett, Dr. Samella Lewis, Richard Mayhew and Charles White that helped lay the foundation for this discussion.  Today, there are new stories being visually presented about African American people by talented and young contemporaries. They are creating and delivering messages that are impacting society also from a political and social justice perspective and bodies of work are being presented in every medium.

Artist: Richard Mayhew

What’s the backstory of the backstory? Number Two – Hard work and Determination. Do things happen over night or do they evolve over time?

“As folks continued to sit around the table issues impacting African American artists were discussed — representation, marketing, trends being set, collectors and all of the components were that will provide art enthusiast from the around the world to enjoy the work.” said Dorsey.   We started to take a close look at what would be required to create our own future.

What truly is the backstory of the backstory? Number Three – Create your own coloring book then you can decide how it should be designed and what the content should be.

Dorsey reminded me of the quote by President Obama, “You be the change you’re looking for”.  This quote became a part of his consciousness.

Barkley Hendricks and Faith Ringgold’s Obama busts as well as the work, My First Lady, by contemporary artist Tracy Murrell are among the featured art at the Black Art In America Fine Art Show Houston.

In May 2010 Black Art in America, an online art magazine, was launched at the African American Museum in Dallas.  Over the last seven years, the magazine has presented the work of African American artist around the world, created a community for those interested in the art and provided educational opportunities for growth and development related to the history and culture of African American people.

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