Nice/Nasty

Blog Post 4: In the News with Black Contemporary Artists

Markus Prime is best known for his unique style that centers on enlightenment and social issues within the Black community. He is also known for adding his own personal spin on well-known characters, allowing them to be more relatable for people of color by making them African American. One piece that I believe many POC can relate to is a drawing titled, “Complexion.” It shows women ranging from darker tones to lighter tones, and from straight hair to kinky hair. Even within the Black community there has always been an obvious discrimination towards those with darker skin. Those with a fairer or lighter skin tone are typically [subliminally] viewed as more idealized for their more European-like features. Prime expresses gratitude to all of the various complexions, shapes, and hair styles that people of color come with. Although Prime tends to show Black people in a more uplifting light, not all Black artists tend to do the same.

Take Robert Colescott for example—his painting titled, “George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware: Page from an American History Textbook displays Blacks in a more racially offensive manner. The subjects within this painting consists of darker skin tones, which ties back to what I stated previously—those with darker skin tones are typically associated with the more negative aspects and stereotypes of being African American. Although some may find the image disturbing or offensive, Colescott uses this painting to bring awareness to the effects that stereotypes and racism can bring upon others. His use of familiar faces, such as Aunt Jemima, assist in highlighting the achievements of African Americans. It is safe to say that this painting is what some would call “nice-nasty” in the sense that it is racially offensive while simultaneously uplifting Blacks in the sense of their successes.

Prime is slowly but surely gaining the recognition that I believe he deserves. I appreciate the fact that his art concentrates on current social and justice issues that are taking place within America. Below is a prime example of what I am talking about (all pun intended).

-Aiesha Kornegay

black_lives_matter_large

Markus Prime, “All Lives Matter” (2015), marker and micron on paper

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