Rajii Mohammed Babatunde
Born on July 29th, 1986, Raji Mohammed Babatunde is a Lagos-based Nigerian visual artist. He graduated in Fine and Applied Art from Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education in Ijanikin and he holds a bachelor’s in fine art and Education from the University of Nigeria in Nsukka. Raji is an impressionist who expresses himself in different drawing and painting mediums.
He started exploring his interest in art while in primary school by drawing comics and cars in all his notebooks. Today, his art portrays human relationships, memories of events, and facial expressions suggesting innocence, beauty, expectations, calm, directions, etc., with the aim of making viewers of his works connect to a particular moment in their lives, mostly pleasurable and unforgettable times.
Raji has been painting for over 10 years. His work is suggestive of his own childhood and his subjects, mostly children, take him back to this period in his life. Growing up in Africa he has seen the exploitation of women and young girls. His paintings capture their innocence and their beauty that he feels need to be protected at all cost. Raji has a very calm and reflective demeanor and connects to his subjects and work very deeply. As an artist, his use of light and dark creates depth and mood in imagery. Chiaroscuro, dramatism and his outstanding mastery of illumination produces different gradients and hues in his subjects. It bestows within the painting 3-dimensionality making the subjects look deeper and more real.
Gigi Bolden is one of few artists who are able to work across a wide spectrum of cultural images, creating reflections of African-American people. Most evident in Gigi's art and her personality is her passion. She has an attraction to nudes as subject and she states..."the human form is one of the most beautiful of God's creations." She studied at Columbus College of Art and Design and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit,
Gigi’s art is inspired primarily by Romare Bearden, Benny Andrews, William Johnson, Jacob Lawrence, Charles McGee, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso. She prefers to work in acrylics and mixed media on paper, wood, or canvas, but is also adept at watercolor, collage, paper sculpture, stained glass, and airbrush.
Ricky Calloway was reared in Opelika, Alabama.
The special gift to create artwork was revealed to him as a young child. After encouragement from his mother and art teacher, Ricky decided to pursue a career in art.
After graduating from Opelika High School in 1978, Ricky was accepted into the art program at Alabama State University. Painting became his specialty. However, he is equally versatile in other media as well. He received the B.A. degree in art from Alabama State University during the spring quarter of 1984
. While attending A.S.U, he received numerous art awards, academic awards, and graduated with honors. Shortly after working three years as a graphic designer and screen-printer, Ricky was accepted into the Master of Fine Arts program at Florida State University in 1987. During the summer semester of 1989, Mr. Calloway was awarded the Master of Fine Arts degree from Florida State University in the concentrated areas of drawing and painting.
Two University Fellowships were awarded to him while attending F.S.U. Several of his creative achievements are painting the portraits of Fort Valley State University past and present Presidents and created a large mural for The National Center for the Study of Civil Rights and African American Culture at Alabama State University. Furthermore, he gives workshops locally and nationally in the concentrated areas of serigraphy and painting.
Kimmy Cantrell enjoys developing fresh variations on several recurring themes: faces, still lifes, nudes and fish. Kimmy uses many forms to tell his stories, from free standing sculptures to still life collages. He uses asymmetry to challenge traditional definitions of beauty. “I want to show the beauty within flaws,” he explains.
“Imperfections tell stories that are far more compelling than perfection.”
Through his fragmented flowers and fish for instance, he recounts fond childhood memories of his grandmother (Bama) who was a very important figure in his upbringing. Bama taught Kimmy lessons of perseverance, living within your means and how to be responsible for your own success.
He has also used his nudes and faces as a platform for political, and social commentary. His titles are notable as they are often powerful and poignant reflecting turbulent times.
His work has been exhibited at galleries, festivals, and museums nationally as well as represented in private collections abroad, including Sweden, Italy, France, and England. He has exhibited at art Expo in NY, Miami, during Art Basel, and currently shows at Sausalito, St. Louis Arts Festival and the Philadelphia Museum Show.
Kimmy Cantrell currently resides in Atlanta Ga.
Andra Natascha Daans (1962) was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Her mother is Dutch, her father is from Suriname. Her roots are visible from the outside and for her tangible from the inside.
Andra Daans starts her art career at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague (1983-1985). She continues her study in Rome at the Free Academy of Fine Arts (1985-1989). During that period, she is invited to take part at The International Biennale, Malta (1987
With my artwork, I want to reflect on the life of enslaved and or poor children, without losing reality, giving them an expressive identity. In my new series of paintings, I want to show the painful history of slavery. The last few years I have been focusing on developing a new contemporary style. In addition, I searched for a theme that gives me the opportunity to develop a clearly recognizable style. The result is the series ‘Portraits of Life’, based on true stories. Without losing reality, giving them an expressive identity. My intent is to elicit an emotional response without dictating to the viewer what they should or shouldn't be feeling.
This internationally recognized artist is currently represented in The Netherlands and Philadelphia. Recent projects include the 25 YEAR ART RETROSPECTIVE of EASTON MUSIC INSPIRED ART in The Netherlands during the 2017 North Sea Jazz Festival. Easton has created Album covers for Blue Note Records and custom artwork for the popular performance artist and singer FKA Twigs. Easton also has a 17 year history of live painting during American and European Jazz festivals! He has recently appeared on Dutch Televison discussing the importance of Jazz and Blues art in African American heritage. Also in 2017 as featured artist in “My Home is Not Your Backyard “ at The Rush Arts Foundation in Brooklyn NY seeking to create a visual dialogue that highlights the reality of Caribbean societies as opposed to how they portrayed by the media and other sources. The artist also exhibited sculpture in 2017 as part of the exhibit “My Home is Not Your Backyard “ in Barbados Grand Salle Gallery & Annex
Ellis is an award-winning art director and established artist with a professional career spanning over three decades and two continents. His collaboration with a variety of industry leaders has resulted in some of the world's recognizable brands. His most inspired artwork is channeled from his experiences growing up in the Hartford community and understanding all aspects of classic design and urban culture. Stylistically, his recent work is born from a pursuit of digital medium and fine art pieces that reflect his upbringing and background.
Over the course of his career Ellis has consulted and produced world-class commercial design solutions. His originality and creativity are well known and sought after by collectors, peers, and recognized with countless awards from leading design authorities in the art world.
Mikel Elam is a visual artist working primarily as a painter. His work focuses on storytelling through memory and dreams using the fragments of face and figure to convey information and his ideals about world culture.
Mikel attended the University of the Arts, Philadelphia. He received his BA degree in Studio Arts/Painting. He went on to study at the School of the Visual Arts in New York City. Mikel’s work has been featured in international publications and media. Mikel worked for five years as a traveling assistant to jazz musician Miles Davis. He also assisted Mr. Davis in achieving his visual arts aspirations as a painter.
“I am a visual artist interested in the contrast of history and the concepts of futurism. I express my ideals through abstracting the figure. In fact, I like to think of myself as an Afro-futurist. I use classic painting techniques interspersed with a mix medium of collage, found objects, assorted ephemera to convey messages about human equality or lack of. In short, I am a storyteller."
"My focus is on creating figurative narrations, within a historical context, about representative groups, or specific individuals caught in dilemmas created by circumstances beyond their control. The characters in my narratives are portrayed in the throes of a defining moment.
I explore documented events in my family and historical episodes. My goal is to continue investigating the uncomfortable realities of the past and, in some cases, to spotlight how they still affect the present. The paradoxes that I explore reveal the travesties of inhumanity and the lack of much-needed altruism.
I depict these situations within a psychological reality or dream-like state, rather than detailed or photographic realism.
The response to my work has ranged from revulsion, tears, anger, and the viewer’s overwhelming need to thank me for my exposing a forgotten historical reality or the lesson of the subject’s horrible and unbearable experiences.
I hold a B.F.A. from Southeastern Massachusetts University in Painting and an M.F.A. from the University of Miami in Painting. My background includes owning and operating two advertising agencies, teaching Art and Art History at Bristol Community College, and teaching marketing at the Charlton College of Business at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
My studio is located at my home in Fairhaven, and, for a time, I also maintained one in Figueira da Foz, Portugal where I once lived."
"Much of my work is concerned with social inequality along both national and global fronts. My imagery explores historical moments. Moments that celebrate the beauty of a people or the necessary light upon violence against humanity, in its many forms, with special attention to the plight of women and children.
Through research, I engage with the past and use my art to give a public and present voice to those whose voices have been silenced or just plainly, ignored. I create collage, paintings, and installations that often interweave text. Although I am well known for my collage-based work, I implement a wide variety of media to manifest my work.
I tell stories using appropriated materials from popular magazines, vintage maps, and resourced materials, offering them back to the viewer with a sense of history and admiration of the beautiful. My mixed media artworks are sometimes applause and sometimes ranting about the effects of politics and history. By squaring off the division between the realm of memory and the realm of experience, I absorb the tradition of remembrance art into daily practice. This personal storytelling is important as an act of meditation and mediation.
My work is rarely conceived as a single piece but is instead imagined as an entire body of work around a central theme, such as the 32 pieces in Hooded Truths (2014), which also includes installation and performance. In addition, I make use of text and performance in my work to strengthen the voice. My practice is socially engaged, personally, in my interaction and collaboration with other artists, and politically, in my activism through my work."
Nicole Josette is a metal artist and a self-taught mixed media abstract artist native of Detroit, Michigan.
Her artistic abilities began when she was around 10 years old when her maternal grandmother and aunt taught her how to use a sewing machine to design and make clothes. In middle school, she enrolled in several sewing classes. In high school, she enrolled in a vocational class for Fashion Design and Tailoring. She aspired to pursue a career in fashion but was influenced to try a different discipline.
She completed a degree in Computer Science which led to a career in Information Technology for more than 25 years.
For a very long time she was not inspired to be creative.
In 2006, she overheard someone talking about a workshop on making crystal bracelets. That conversation awoke her creativity.
She went from learning how to create crystal and bead jewelry, to learning how to create metal jewelry and objects, to enameling metal objects, to developing a love for painting and creating mixed media art in 2021. Her work is influenced by Jackson Pollock, Lena (Lee) Krasner, Jack Whitten, and Charles Lewton-Brain.
"I am primarily interested in creating art that has movement and is engaging. I am often inspired by unique color combinations as well as the emotional connections and feelings that I have with people. In my work, I love to use non-traditional materials and methods to add textures, scratchy lines, and curves to reveal what I call “visual escapades”. My intention is to draw participants into an exciting and stimulating visual experience."
Robert Ketchens is a social realist painter who creates layered artworks that are rich in color and symbolism. The subjects of his works are predominantly influenced by and reflect the social distinctions and complexities of the African diaspora. Ketchens’ work is rooted in traditional theory made fresh with modern applications and sensibility. He is drawn to contemporary and historical themes that are part of a larger story of dignity and humanity in black people. In his paintings, you will find visual quotes from Masters such as Diego Velasquez, Francisco Goya, Romare Bearden, and Charles White.
Robert Ketchens was born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1952. Serving as a Medical Illustrator with the US Air Force, he was given the opportunity to study abroad in Wiesbaden, Germany, where he learned traditional techniques in painting. By using old world techniques as a solid foundation and mixing in modern esthetics, he has developed a very unique and distinct style. He has had solo exhibitions nationwide, including those at the Rosemary Berkel and Harry L. Crisp Museum, Fontbonne University Museum, the Margaret Harwell Museum, and the Dusable Museum in Chicago. His selected group exhibitions include the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis, and the Museum Center of Records and Documents for Senegal in Senegal, West Africa, amongst others.
His work is held in numerous public and private collections, most notably the permanent collection of the Illinois State Museum, and the Missouri History Museum. In 2016 Robert Ketchens received a Purchase Award with the 22nd African American Art Exhibition in Louisville, Kentucky.
In 2017, Ketchens received a commission from the Missouri History Museum to complete four portraits of St. Louis’ African American civil rights leaders and activists, for their exhibition titled “#1 in Civil Rights: The African American Freedom Struggle in St. Louis.” These paintings remain in their permanent collection. Robert Ketchens currently lives and works in O’Fallon, Illinois.
Rodney "Buck" Mbilashaka
BUCK! Describes his work as “an ongoing conversation with myself in regards to my many artistic influences gathered from daily life and also from seeking information. The viewer gets bits of everything in my work including influences from impressionists, cartoonists, painters, graphic artists and more. My art is often interrupted by my logical thoughts which are then reinterpreted back into a visual representation of its chaos.” A collage of words and impactful imagery, his work is in a category of its own.
With over 25 years of professional experience, Buck delves deep into his own vices in an ongoing journey of spiritual discovery. It is in the contradiction of the human experience that Buck finds beauty. Buck has successfully managed and designed campaigns for national brands including, Heineken, Adidas, Scion, Boost Mobile, Sprint and Timberland. A believer in change, Buck’s art is a reflection and an opportunity for audiences to consider choice. An accomplished designer, his work was a part of the UNCF evening of stars for which the team won a NAACP image award. His work was featured in the 2019 Netflix movie Love Dot Com: The Social Experiment.
"I am a former teacher, photographer, director and artist. As a fiber artist, I have been knitting since I was six years old.
I began needle felting as an artist in 2021. My current project is titled Crowns. As descendants, we have always been proud of our hair, and the various styles we use. In Africa, there are various cultures that go to painstaking efforts to style their hair."
Although she has been working in this medium for a short time, she has created a series called “Crowns”.
The concept behind Crowns is to show how people of the African continent and those of the diaspora, adorn their heads. In most African cultures, hair is treated with reverence; it symbolizes social status, spirituality, tribe and marital status etc. It is for these reasons hair was treated with a lot of love and care. When we were kidnapped from Africa, our hair was often shorn, and we were not allowed to take care of our hair the way we did when we lived in Africa. Much of this was because white realized that our hair held clues to who we were as a people and by taking that, we lost relevance to our heritage, thus putting us in “our place”. Even today, many natural black hair and hair styles are looked down upon, ostracized and condemned for simply being styled in the way that suits our hair the best. We have been led to believe that the straight, flat hair of white people, is superior to our own natural hair. In many cases, the white population of America and other countries show verbal and oral criticism of our hair style choices.
Each bust in this series is created through research-based information, to understand the customs and significance of the various cultures. Currently, the focus is on the African continent, but will eventually show people of African descent throughout the rest of the world. Our crowns are our pride and joy, and it is important to understand how our concept of self is formed in the way we adorn our crowns.
Shirley Woodson-Reid is an artist, curator and collector. She received her BFA and MA from Wayne State University and graduate studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
“Paintings are my diaries; drawings are my prose; collage is my poetry; assemblages are my dialogue,” notes artist, educator, arts advocate, and 2021 Kresge Eminent Artist, Shirley Woodson Reid. Across six decades and parallel to her accomplishments as an artist, Woodson has also been an exceptionally dedicated and influential educator, arts advocate, and institution builder.
Woodson has lived a life dedicated to uplifting the beauty of Black art. Fine arts paintings, collage, portraits, and figurative paintings depict her life, the environment, and African American history.
She is a MacDowell Colony and ConFaba Fellow, and held art residencies at the Fabric Workshop and Museum, as well as the Brandywine Printmaking Workshop and Archives in Philadelphia.
Her writings have appeared in the International Review of African American Art, MidMarch Arts Press, along with the publications of Morgan State University, Marygrove College, NCA Michigan and others. Woodson also served as an illustrator for Broadside Press. Woodson’s work iin the public collections include: Detroit Institute of Artists, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Museum of the National Center of Afro American Art, Boston; Mott - Warsh Collection of Contemporary Art, Flint, MI; Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia; African American Library Northwestern University, Evanston; Williams Museum, Scripps College, CA ; Florida A and M University; Fayetteville State University, NC; Wayne State University; Detroit Receiving Hospital, and Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit. Currently her projects include preparation for an exhibition of abstract drawings.
“I seek to stand face-to-face with myself, know who I am and speak to the universe”.
Frank Schroeder is an experienced French painter whose works have featured in prominent exhibitions in the US, UK and Spain. Partly revisiting classic religious and philosophical themes with a contemporary outlook, and partly exploring each viewer to embark on a journey via his works: either to their fears, their reality, or simply back to themselves.
Frank's work is fast, responsive, and instinctive, and is produced on canvas and cardboard. Given his ‘no time to lose’ mindset he favors acrylic because of its rapid drying time often overlaying this with oil pastels and sometimes spray paint.
His more recent work tells intricately woven stories of biblical themes and personal experience blended with psychological and emotional confessions. His modernistic use of line combined with energetic colors and evocative Neo-expressionist style is layered with a uniquely patterned use of numbers and type that capture the gaze and encourage new experiences each time the work is engaged.
His work has often been compared to that of Picasso and Basquiat by a number of art critics. The tension in his pieces reveal a yearning for indulgence and absolution.
Schroeder comments, “For my part, a painting should not be a simple illustration on canvas. Each painting must tell its viewer a story. I want my viewers to experience the 'Alice in Wonderland Syndrome.' I want them to go through the proverbial mirror in order to get to the other side of my painting and live in my work as part of the story.”
Eugene Seaborn III was born in Detroit, Michigan, and feels that his experiences in this community has had a significant impact on his art career. He started painting professionally in 1975, and originally started by using acrylic paints on canvas.
His work has evolved into what he now calls textured collages. He uses a combination of acrylic paints, modeling clay, sand and crushed stones incorporated with abstract designs on canvas. He has also completed wall graphics and murals.
Eugene's work is inspired by the depth and complexity of African American culture. He uses vivid colors and vibrant images to depict a range of topics, including music, dance, religion, family and the everyday experiences of the American population.
His work has been commissioned by businesses, churches, hospitals, and individuals throughout the country, including The Apex Corporation, Westminster Presbyterian Church, The Foote Hospital, and The First Bank of Chicago. His work has also been displayed in local and outstate galleries including Picture Talk Galleries, The Alley Arts Gallery, The Paint Creek Gallery, and Illusions.
Eugene’s work has appeared in art shows across the country, including Gold Coast in Chicago, Central Park South and The Washington Square Art Exhibit in NY, the Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair in Michigan, and the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (Detroit AlumnaeChapter) Art Auction.
He attended Wayne State University and the University of Detroit.
Juliet Seignious grew up in Harlem, the place where she witnessed Malcolm X enlightening the crowds on street corners, Adam Clayton Powell preaching in Abyssinian Baptist church, doctors and porters living in the same buildings, children playing a dizzying array of street games and people sitting on fire escapes to catch a breeze in summertime.
It was here, in this time and place, that she acquired her passion for art. Having two passions as a child, painting and dance,
"I elected to take both in Junior High School. It was then that I realized exactly how much I loved them. Although I was accepted into the High School of Music and Art, I decided to attend the High School of Performing Arts (of Fame fame). After graduating, I had offers from numerous organizations: Martha Graham Dance Company, the Julliard School (a full scholarship for dance) and the New York City Ballet. Regarding the last option, this was an apprenticeship program to ultimately partner me with Arthur Mitchell who was the only African American dancer in the company associated with the school. I turned all of these down in order to become one of the founding members of the Alvin Ailey Dance Company and it was here that my interest in African American history was peaked. Working with Alvin was an extremely moving and visual experience. Being in the middle of a black company, talking about black heritage at the high point of African American political and cultural awareness was amazing and significant, on so many levels.
I first thought of expressing thoughts, emotions, and history in paintings.” Through her paintings, she documents, explores, and communes. Juliet’s work is an explosive assemblage of styles and techniques which are largely figurative in nature with elements of abstraction."
Essentially, her work is an explosive assemblage of styles and techniques, but they are largely figurative in nature with elements of abstraction.
Within any one piece you might find painted portraits, photos, historical documents, cheesecloth, shells, oils, acrylics, varnish as well as pastels, my signature painting on tarpaper. Self-taught, one clearly sees the influence of numerous artists: Romare Bearden, Van Gogh, Matisse and Jackson Pollack.
After teaching art for more than 30 years, Patricia Simpson of Saginaw decided to go back to school and perfect her work with clay.
She wanted to create something that expressed her ancestral heritage. ‘Being an African-American woman, I had no information about my culture so I had to do research,’ she says.
Her collection includes vessels and sculptures created in the last year or two – most of which have not been on display before.
While researching African-American culture and art, she noticed similarities with Australia aboriginal color palettes and figure styles. She noticed the similarities between pieces in her basement mini gallery and aboriginal paintings.
"It was a happy accident".
Each piece is handmade and one of a kind. Each vessel can take up to a month to create. It requires time to dry and harden because if the structure is not strong enough, the clay can crack.
Simpson received a master’s degree from Wayne State University, double majoring in art education and home economics. She taught in Detroit for 22 years and spent several years teaching ceramics before retiring in 2010. Then she took ceramic classes at the College of Creative Studies, and is taking a pottery throwing class at Oakland Community College.
"I started taking classes and refining my art, which has really helped. I’m learning new things and techniques," she says, noting she’s perfected glazing techniques, abstract patterns and designs.
Simpson has a kiln at home, but said she enjoys feedback and critique from other classmates and teachers. She plans to continue taking classes.
"It’s just the journey and educating yourself", she says.
Dawn L. Stringer is a self-taught Abstract Expressionist. Her work is influenced by Gerhard Richter and Norman Lewis and heavily inspired by music, pop culture, and obscurity. Dawn describes her work as, “beautifully organized chaos”. She encourages the viewer to get lost within her work and to create their own interpretation based upon what they see and most importantly what they feel.
Dawn’s award- winning piece “Love Supreme” was selected as part of the Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series Finals in 2017. Dawn has exhibited and shown throughout the country including: The Detroit Historical Museum, Rush Arts Philadelphia, , Art Expo NY and Scope Miami. Her work has been acquired for private and public collections.
Dawn resides in the Metro Detroit Area and is a member of the Atlanta based artist collective, The Obsidian Collektive, a member of the National Conference of Artists.
Asha Walidah learned dark room development techniques and the art of photography while being the head photographer at the Shrine of the Black Madonna Church where she learned how to capture and document the peaks of religious spirituality.
In the early 90’s Walidah traveled to South Africa due largely to her heartfelt concern for the apartheid oppression in the country at the time. While in South Africa, she experienced free-lance journalism from a Johannesburg photographer which enabled her to see first-hand the effects of apartheid on the indigenous people. As a result of documenting this struggle, the then editor of the Michigan Chronicle Newspaper, Danton Wilson, published a weekly series covering her travels in South Africa. She also exhibited, lectured, and gave many slide presentations to the Public and the Detroit Public Schools.
Walidah has also traveled to Cuba, Brazil, Ecuador, and many countries in South America. In addition to East and West Africa, and Senegal , May 13th through June 9th, 2022, for the Dak ‘Art Biennale, and Saint Louis Jazz festival.
Walidah has exhibited in the National Conference of Artists, Dell Pryor Gallery, Detroit Fine Arts Breakfast Club Delta Detroit Alumnae Art Auction, Mac Gallery, Madonna University Wayne County Community College Juanita Brown Gallery, J. Rainey Gallery, Grosse Pointe Art Center, Detroit Artist Market, Arts Extended Gallery Scarab Club, G.R. Nnamdi Gallery, Paint Creek Center for the Arts, Lawrence Street Gallery, Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series, and the Charles Wright African American Museum.
The photography of Asha Walidah was distinguished by being featured on the exhibition catalog cover, and poster for the New Initiatives for Michigan Arts, 1989 Traveling Exhibition, and placed Third at the Kalamazoo Black Fine Art Competition. She was also the recipient of two Grants from the Detroit Councill for the Arts in 1990 and 1991. In 2006 Asha was awarded Honorable Mention from the Scarab Club, and The Grosse Pointe Art Center.
My personal artwork has always been inspired by the distinctive and spiritual nature of an African American experience. I hope to stir the viewer’s spirit and their curiosity with my work by capturing this human experience in moments of reflection, celebration, healing and despair. The ideas emerge from observed encounters, which are then developed into more interpretive, sometimes-mysterious visual imagery on paper. I would like to think the complexity of the work is not in the technique, but in the ideas behind them.