“Majestic: Mother Earth”by Oluwatobi Adewumi, charcoal, collage and acrylic on paper, 36x26

ABOUT THIS PIECE:

"The artwork focuses on the positive impacts Black women have had on society and culture; it also references the systemic challenges Black women face such as racism, sexism, inequality and trauma. With these topics front and center in the news, [it influences] the way Black women are perceived. The 'Mother Earth' piece is like every Black woman in the U.S. Black women in America have learned to find humor in heartache, to see beauty during desperation and horror. They have been both caregivers and breadwinners, showing incredible strength and resilience, unflinching loyalty, boundless love and affection."

ARTIST BIO:

Oluwatobi Adewumi is a contemporary artist who focuses on the sociocultural of the subject through his multimedia drawings. His work explores his personal journey of having been born in Nigeria then moving and assimilating into American culture in conservative Arkansas. His drawings are between realism/abstract figures and portraits layered out to make it simple for his audience by telling a story in a story. Some of his best tools are charcoal and acrylic paint, which he can manipulate and use freely to bring the depth of the subject as he tackles the story behind each artwork.

ARTIST STATEMENT:

"With every piece of art, I produce a story, an opportunity to provide history, a new voice and perspective for my audience. I believe in using my artistic gifts as a conduit to share the stories of people and places living in different societies and cultures with a new context. My practice engages in a critical commentary of the past to learn and unlearn how history shapes our understanding of the present and, in turn, impacts our perception of the future. I see and understand the world through people — their faces, expressions and gazes allow me to represent the often-overlooked faces of Black African immigrants across the diaspora.

"Reading books shaped my early knowledge about history and race, as well as stories from my great-grandparents. Those images were rich, powerful and heroic. They embodied so much power while influencing how I see any Black man or woman losing so much of their story, which must be investigated, and how we are seen by the world today. Having been removed from my own rich culture and history leads me to create elegant iconic images that show the rich practices to tell the world about the future. My art takes on reconstructing the lost story, documenting the ideals of our history. Stereotypes and myths that have been created are challenged. I create a dialogue between the ideas of inclusion, culture, dignity, consumption. A subjectivity by addressing the left-out cultures and traditions of any Black race. Challenging the history and untold stories, I make space for the Black race to tell the world about their story and history.

"My work abstracts the hyper-realistic through layering and reconfiguration of the image through line. My process includes history and socially related images of Black people. They are manipulated with paint or charcoal to get the desired result about the topic and bold hybrid portraits. I am interested in giving space to marginalized voices and how the world sees race, shows passion, asks questions, hope and weakness. The men and women who populate my works have been pushed to the second class and hold bad images, however, they have stories and a history society must acknowledge."

Find more of Adewumi's work online at tobiadewumi.com and on Instagram.