In a recent piece for Smithsonian, writer Tiffany Y. Ates describes the multi-format portraiture of New York-based artist Mikalene Thomas as a gesture which in itself “. . . challenges conventional notions of femininity, sexuality and blackness in art history.”
Echoing Ates’ sentiment, Thomas explains the intention that informs her work “By portraying real women with their own unique history, beauty and background, I’m working to diversify the representations of Black women in art.”
Centering Black women
By almost exclusively using Black women as the muses for her pieces, Thomas has created a unique visual world in which Black women are centered, infused with beauty and a sense of belonging.
In the spirit of uplifting the images of Black Women, while recognizing their creative genius, multimedia artist and organizer Cassendre Xavier founded the Black Women’s Art Festival, which was initially launched in 2003 and has since grown into an annual event.
For its 2019 installment at The Rotunda in Philly, the Black Women’s Art Festival will begin on Saturday September 21, with a second day of events and activities following on Sunday. The two-day weekend festival will feature the works of independent Black women in music, poetry, dance performances, stage & theatre, art films, workshops, art exhibitions, various vendors, and more.
The necessity of a festival that highlights the work of Black Women artists cannot be overstated. The Black Women’s Art Festival continues on with its mission to uplift the voices and creativity of Black Women, reminding us all of how essential Black Women and the art that they produce are to our families, our communities, and to the world at large.
What, When, Where:
The 13th annual Black Women’s Art Festival is Saturday, September 21 at 1-9pm and Sunday, September 22 at 1-6pm at The Rotunda, 4014 Walnut Street, Philadelphia. The event is free and is wheelchair accessible.