Known as a “unified art expression,” Black art•ish was created in 2018 as a platform to showcase black artists in Memphis, Tennessee. The goal is to bring awareness to social issues through the use of our creative arts. Black art•ish is filled with culture, pride, and thought-provoking art and MADE caught up with founder Kelvin Woods to discuss the inspiration behind the movement and why it’s important for artists like himself…
MADE: How did you come up with the concept Black Art-ish?
KW: Originally I just wanted to produce art that was a reflection of the 50th year anniversary of Martin Luther King’s death. But as I spoke with other artists, I realized that we really needed a platform to share work that was both a reflection of history, and our present day reality. I decided I wanted to put together a showcase to give some local artist the time to do just that as we closed out Black History Month.
MADE: What was the response to the event?
KW: The response was phenomenal! The people of Memphis really came out to support. We had well over 400 people walk through the exhibit. It was a great night with great vibes. We are working on the next concept we want to bring to the city.
MADE: Why is it important for you to have a platform for Black artists to share their work?
KW: I think that often times black artists are placed in very specific categories…and not expected to really provide thought provoking and widely relatable pieces. I want a platform that allows black artists to show their diversity and to feel like there is a place just for them. It is our culture and it should be shared from our perspective.
MADE: What struggles/obstacles have you overcome as an artist?
KW: Art is so subjective. One of the obstacles I really had to overcome was the opinions of others. Especially during my time as a college art student. Understanding that my art would always be my point of view, my thoughts, my ideas, and my perspective freed me to produce work I was proud of regardless of the opinions of others.
MADE: How much of your own life is reflected in your work?
KW: I would not so much say that my work is a reflection of my actual life, but rather my perspective on ideas or people portrayed.
MADE: What does your art mean to you?
KW: My art means a lot to me. It is a passion for sure. I can be a bit of an introvert and my art gives me the opportunity to share my thoughts and ideas in non-verbal way.
MADE: What do you want people to take away from the Black Art-ish experience?
KW: I hope that people enjoyed and evening of cultural pride. Of course I hope that the pieces were visually appealing, but more importantly…I hope they sparked conversation about current events and what we need to do as black people to move the needle forward.
MADE: How can we connect with you and your upcoming projects?
KW: The best way to stay connected is to follow our social media pages on Facebook and Instagram @Blackartish, but we also have a website where you can view pictures of past events, support the arts, order Blackartish custom apparel, and much more.
For more info, visit www.blackartish.com.