Tag Archives: race

Selections from “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See”

by Charles Williams

CONFRONTATION III - JULY 17, 2014 - 48"X48"- Oil on Panel

CONFRONTATION III – JULY 17, 2014 – 48″X48″- Oil on Panel

CHOKEHOLD - Harlem, July 1964 - 22"x30" - Oil on Watercolor Paper

CHOKEHOLD – Harlem, July 1964 – 22″x30″ – Oil on Watercolor Paper

NIGHTSTICK - Harlem, July 1964 - 22"x30" - Oil on Watercolor Paper

NIGHTSTICK – Harlem, July 1964 – 22″x30″ – Oil on Watercolor Paper

RIOTER - Watts, August 13, 1965 - 22"x30" - Oil on Watercolor Paper

RIOTER – Watts, August 13, 1965 – 22″x30″ – Oil on Watercolor Paper

KID WITH LUCY - Newark, July 1967 - 22"x30" - Oil on Watercolor Paper

KID WITH LUCY – Newark, July 1967 – 22″x30″ – Oil on Watercolor Paper


“Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See” is showing at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC from September 19-November 11, 2017. There is an artist talk and gallery walk-through Thursday, October 20 at 7:00. Info here.

More of his work can be seen in the exhibition “BLACK on BLACK,” which runs from October 7-27, 2017 at VAE Raleigh.


charles-williams-todd_turner_photography-5-2Charles Williams is a professional contemporary realist painter from Georgetown, South Carolina and a graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Savannah, Georgia with a Bachelors Degree in Fine Art. From utilizing oils for the basis of landscapes, each painting captures his reflection of human emotions in response to and in sync with the natural environment. Recent achievements and awards include a Hudson River Landscape Fellowship, featured work in the Artists Magazines 28th Annual Art Competition, honorable mention from Southwest Art Magazines 21 Emerging Under 31 competition, 2012 Winner of the Fine Art Category from Creative Quarterly and featured cover artist of Composite and Professional Artist Magazine. Williams’ works has been shown in American Art Collector, Empty, Charleston Magazine, Grand Strand, Studio Visit, Bluecanvas and other national publications. He was recently interviewed and broadcast on ETV/ NPR station, entitled: Nature Through the Eyes of an Artist. His contemporary landscapes have been exhibited in group and solo exhibitions in galleries in New York, Vermont, California, Georgia, South Carolina and several other southeastern states.

Website: cewpaintings.com
Blog: cewpaintings.blogspot.com



Reiterating the Erotic

by Carla Aaron-Lopez


the great protector


Carla Aaron-Lopez writes regularly for Creative Thresholds about the experience of being an emerging artist. Her previous posts are: “Notes from kingCARLA,” “Notes from kingCARLA 2,” “Notes from kingCARLA 3,” and “That Moment When Artists Snap.” “Reiterating the Erotic” is a lecture she gave recently in Atlanta, GA for a Feminist Symposium called “A Bad Question: An Exhibition and Forum on Race + Feminism.”


The devil came wearing white today. And for the next few minutes, I want you to explore what you really think it means to be a feminist. I don’t burn bras. Men are not my enemy. I don’t have Sex and the City moments with my homegirls and I definitely don’t give a fuck about Susan B. Anthony and the suffragette movement. That’s somebody else’s history.

I am the villain who came to make you reconsider sexuality and sensuality using feminism and post-structuralism as my foundation.

Years ago, I wasn’t very moved by those I met that called themselves feminists. Either they were too contradictory, too hypocritical or too radical for my preferences.

Therefore, let me begin this conversation with the year 2012, when it fully clicked that I was going to be a mother to a son. When that realization finally hit home, I knew that everything I had been told, taught and programmed to believe was a beautiful yet hideously disgusting lie.

I truly believe that we live so far removed from truth that I began seeking a new story to tell, a new lie to believe. After my search, I was left with nothing fulfilling and I went into a sort of psychological hiding.

Hiding my thoughts, my fears, hiding who I really wanted to be.

I wanted to walk away from everyone and everything. I began wishing that stereotypes weren’t real because I was planning my great escape from this perceived reality. It was time for me to find a new hero. One that I could relate to in my dark, twisted and morbid little universe. But even that request didn’t hit on what I truly needed.

Ever since I was a little girl, the story of the damsel in distress has been shared again and again. The princess was always so sweet, so soft and so vulnerable that she constantly needed to be saved by a young prince. Growing up black, I also got sold that I needed Jesus to save me from myself and from the sins of the world. Yet another white man who needed to come save my ass.

As I became a young adult, magazines, music and movies told me that I needed to be saved still but in different and daunting ways. If I wear these clothes, he will be attracted to me. If I were this make-up, I will be cute for spring and winter. If I’m like this or that in bed, then I will drive him crazy.

To be honest, I’m still wading through the mess of my life but I’m here now. And to be even more honest, the power of motherhood and exploring the erotic has changed how I see and interact with everything around me. Our collective journey begins with that statement.

I began looking at myself differently from that point. I realized that nothing I learned was going to help the new journey that was unfolding before me. There was no man or woman who would be able to help me in the way that I needed. I could follow a classic framework knowing that I would be more broken on the inside than ever before. Some women aren’t meant to settle down but instead are meant to pierce the taut fabrics that make up your individual perception.

You will not find me in a church. You will not find me in a book club. You will not even find me at a Beyonce concert.

When the feeling came, that moment of clarity, I was standing in my room. The beginnings of my downfall from reality started right there.
And it was glorious.

It wasn’t late into the night but it was winter and it was definitely dark outside. I like the dark. I found myself in my favorite place at that moment. Sinking deep into my thoughts which is similar to navigating through a large warmed vat of thick, luscious, viscous Vaseline. It’s just as comforting as sunny Southern skies with lingering humidity in the air.

I knew this feeling very well and I automatically felt what it wanted to do with me. It started deep down low and seductively moved its way up to my brain sparking a quiet chaos throughout the rest of my body.

The feeling began to inform what I should do next with my life. At that moment, I could either be self-destructive, self-pleasuring or take that energy by its curly rolls and push it into another direction.

One text conversation with a friend later in the night brought back me to the mind of Audre Lorde and introduced me to her views on eroticism.  My friend sent me audio of Lorde sharing her essay, “The Power of the Erotic” (a recording can be found at the end of the essay). I pressed play but I wasn’t listening. Her voice was mesmerizing because I had never heard a woman speak with such confidence and comfort. I wanted to be like that. I wanted to inhabit that energy and share it with the people.

I needed to find the thing itself and print it out. The next day, I found her essay because I needed to hold her words and take them in while draped in silence. I needed to touch the papers and strike it with my pen jotting notes all over its margins. I needed a moment with those words and hear them with my inner voice for it to become one with my personal dialogue.

My reason for being so obsessive is because I needed for someone to put into words what I had been feeling naturally and solidify my reasons for working with such hypersexualized imagery. She flipped over and turned out everything that I knew about erotic and I, in turn, reconsidered how I defined the term. The exact same thing that I do with my personal work whether visual or written.

I enjoy looking at classic power structures and dismantling them in a way that I think is an improvement. I choose erotic imagery only because of the amount of negativity that surrounds being a sexual woman.

What if I flipped the perception and turned the eroticization of women into gods and titans? Who would they be to you then? Would they become something else? Would they influence a docile woman to become more than what she is? I don’t know but we’ll see as time passes us all.

I’ve learned that the erotic is a feminine energy and any person can come into the folds of that energy if they are seeking to re-establish his/her individual identity. For many years, I’ve gone on rants and lamented in many essays about the hypersexualization of women of color. Black and Latino women are often seen as aggressive enforcers of sexuality while white and Asian women are docile and submissive. Altogether, people will take advantage of a woman’s appearance, love and experiences. What I’ve learned is that if you just ask a woman what she likes, she might tell you. However, I’ve also learned that many of these same women don’t even know what to do with their sexuality because they are scared of it.

I don’t know why but I think I know a point of relativity. Most women refuse to examine the power within themselves because society says a woman should do and be whatever has been previously established of them from a patriarchal perspective.

For a long time that scared me to the point that I didn’t want to be anything like any woman and I refused to be seen as feminine. I preferred to be dressed in masculine energy and keep rappers as my alter ego to protect myself from critical world views on femininity. If you wanted a woman, don’t come to me because you were going to get a nigga in a dress. This is destructive thinking as a result of a sensitive soul reacting to mainstream images around me.

Ads tell me that I need to use certain products or else I will not be beautiful. I have never really been comfortable with agreeing to such a notion. They also tell me that I need to buy certain products or else my vagina will not be clean and it will smell. That’s scientifically dumb as fuck.

If advertisements aren’t telling me what I should do as a woman, then there’s entertainment showing me how I should act as a woman.

According to what we currently watch in movies, television and the internet, I should be a whore whose feelings are always abused because I’ve opened my legs to the wrong man throughout my adult life.

I should be taken advantage of due to the incredibly high amount of moving images that contain rape scenes and its various circumstances.

Or I should live my life docile and continue to wait for my fictitious white or light skinned knight in a well tailored suit because I am a good girl.

Fuck being a good girl. I don’t care about that anymore unless you want to re-enact a role play scene with me because you love me.

When women are denied the unlimited power and pleasure of being a woman, we create severe deficiencies within our quality of living and when she begins to accept denying herself as a result of our classic gender structures, she becomes the bitter bitch.

We all die a little bit when that bitch comes around.

Life without embracing the erotic is a life that is unfulfilled and obligatory, kind of like the bitter woman. To embrace the erotic is to examine a very wide spectrum of feelings emotionally, mentally and physically. We don’t even know all the words that we could use to describe these experiences.

From sharing joy with a loved one in complete silence to how we interact with the world around us. Have you revisited walking barefoot on wet grass after a fresh rainfall? Have you ever taken a deep breath of crisp air on the Blue Ridge Parkway in the fall? Closed your mouth and stared into the eyes of your lover? If not, I suggest that you do.

Free your mind and your ass will follow. Famous words by some very famous non-binary black people.

We need not confuse erotic any longer with female hypersexuality but give in to ourselves in order to enrich our human experience as a whole. I am a mother and there’s a woman halfway across the world whose language I cannot speak who is a mother, too. We can share in the joys of that experience. We can definitely laugh at its frustrations.

Embracing the erotic can bring life to our senses if we understand it as an extension feminine energy. It isn’t a sexual energy but a chaotic one that deserves our attention. From being constantly surrounded by sexual imagery, we confuse what that feeling is deep within us. Confusion leads to erratic thinking, poor decision-making and psychotic actions all blamed on the power of erotic.

If someone chooses to break the structure of what they have been taught as normal for their entire lives for the sake of their sanity and happiness then that is a person choosing power over oppression.

Politically speaking, right now, we, as global citizens, are in a stage of redefining and restructuring how we see and approach gender identity. Those lines have always been bent and crossed for a long time with no one voice as representation until now. Questions are being asked from all corners in regards to what defines male, female, man and woman. Of course, there is opposition and hatred to individuals that are creating new social binaries to define their sense of belonging.

It seems silly for me to live my life just for marriage and a man. Is that all my life amounts to because I am a woman? Shall I be in constant competition with another woman over the affection and attention of a man? Or shall I become the bitter woman spewing nonsense about being independent and not having a need for any man? NO. I just want to live my life. My life is not controlled by or in need of saving by any man (or woman).

I’m human and dysfunctional because everyday my heart and brain go through mini battles in the same manner that belief and reason do. All of those points lead to roads of abuse whether the abuse comes from the self or another person. There is no logic to that. There is no defending, upholding or supporting that. And because of that, I support embracing the power of erotic. I want it to drip from my skin, make a woman question her attraction to me and a man feel like I’m something to be cherished. All because I just want to be comfortable in the skin that I’m in and shine as brightly as I can until Death come to give me the sweetest, deadliest kiss I’ll ever encounter.

I find that exploring your own eroticism will lead to the identity and belonging we constantly search for as humans. To be erotic doesn’t mean that we do as want whenever we want. It also doesn’t give anyone the right to become sexually aggressive as a response to growing up in a Puritan patriarchal western society.

Being erotic is as simple as touching the skin you were born in and not having harsh criticism of its imperfections. Just touch it. Being erotic is finding joy and pleasure in things that make you peaceful mentally. And last, being erotic is taking the chaotic energy you were born with and manipulating it in order to enrich your above ground human experience.

Reading Audre Lorde’s essay has helped turn something that I thought was completely abstract into something that is concrete and tangible. She has given me a new life, new direction in defining how I can begin to comprehend my time on Earth because being erotic is in everything that I do.

From the air I inhale to the words that come out of my mouth.
From how I embrace my hair to how I enjoy a hot cup of coffee.

How I see my life’s work.
How I embrace my child.

I am no longer afraid to simply embrace my femininity. I think it looks great on me.

Any questions? Didn’t think so.



carla aaron-lopez 4Artist: Carla Aaron-Lopez

Instagram: @iamkingcarla

Twitter: @teachkingcarla

End Hate Series

by V.L. Cox


The series was created in response to Arkansas’s HB1228 which made it out of committee in
March of 2015. This discriminatory bill would have brought back Jim Crow days where hatred
and repression were the law of the land. The “End Hate” installation was installed twice on the
steps of the Arkansas State Capitol as a First Amendment protest of the reckless and unjust
behavior by the 90th General Assembly. Through social media and the Associated Press, the
series helped bring world-wide attention to the struggle. With enormous pressure now being
forced on government officials, HB1228 was defeated.

The celebration was brief. With similar bills being considered and passed across the country, the
“End Hate” installation was then taken to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., where the
“I Have a Dream” speech was delivered by American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr.
on August 28, 1963. His speech was a defining moment of the American Civil Rights
Movement. With Civil Rights laws now slowly being chipped away or even denied for some, this
was a sacred place where dreams and freedom were born and was the perfect place to once
again, stand for justice and equality for all. To say that the series was well received on that day,
is an understatement. Over 250,000 people were present, and not one negative comment was
heard about the series. Not one. The power and simplicity of the historic content strongly
resonated through the crowd. It brought people that were visiting from all over the world
together in conversation, sharing their own stories of discrimination and injustice, in peace and
camaraderie. And to me, that is where change begins. Separate Is Never Equal.

END HATE DOORS are solid wooden doors from the 1950’s and paint.

3-24-15 V.L. Cox Equality Doors Exhibit at the Arkansas State Capitol.

v.l. cox-End Hate series-doors-Arkcap2

V.L. Cox End Hate series--doors-HB1228defeat

V.L. Cox-End Hate series-doors-Lincolnmemorial2

V.L. Cox-End Hate series-doors-Washingtonmonument



42.5″ x 13.75″ x 3.75 – Mixed Media

Created from a 1896 church roof dormer from south Arkansas, wood from an old church pew,
1930 rope, and worn leather shoes. In the 1920’s, the Klan used to request full church services
and show up in all their regalia. The only way people could recognize the Klansmen was by
their hands or their shoes. A little side note: My great-grandfather was almost killed by the Klan.
He was pulled out of his house and bed by his ankles, tied to a tree, and horse whipped within
an inch of his life after being falsely accused by a man who was sour over a horse sale. My
grandfather and great-grandmother had to cut him down and nurse his bloody wounds. My
great-grandfather later recognized the shoes of a cousin that was involved in the whipping on
Main St. Arkadelphia, Arkansas and swore revenge. They never spoke again.

SOLES is comprised of an 1896 wooden church dormer vent, natural fiber 1930 rope, leather
and rubber shoes.

V.L. Cox-End Hate series-Soles



66” x 20”x 20” – Mixed Media Installation

After working with incarcerated youth and seeing first hand the unjust imbalance of mass
incarceration of minorities in our country today, I find this piece haunting and sad, but painfully
true. The white column is taken from an old craftsman style front porch, where a lot of time is
spent during the hot summer months due to the sweltering heat. Sitting on the front porch
watching the world go by, is a relaxing, cherished moment here in the south. Unfortunately due
to social economic status, lack of opportunity or the color of their skin, many individuals never
get the opportunity to go very far past this setting before being funneled into the lucrative and
politically controlled ‘cradle to prison’ pipeline. They literally spend a lifetime, from birth to
death, ‘looking out’ into the real world.

JIM is comprised of a vintage Crow decoy, rusted barbed wire, paint, epoxy, and wood.

V.L. Cox-End Hate series-Jim



11. “SOILED”

Mixed Media Installation

A 1920 (95 year old) blood stained Klan robe installation. I acquired this piece from an antique
dealer who had a family bring it in after another family member died. I had no idea it was
stained with blood before the acquisition. I believe, after historical research, that this was used inthe Summer of 1919 (“Red Summer”) somewhere in the south. It’s just too stained and the time period is almost identical. I kept the robe intact, created the hood to complete it, and purchased the vintage metal signage to show the true level of hatred this robe and installation represents. The rope is an old bell tower church rope.

SOILED is comprised of circa 1919 authentic Klan robe, natural fiber rope, metal and wood.

V.L. Cox-End Hate series-Soiled

V.L. Cox-End Hate series-Soiled2

V.L. Cox-End Hate series-Soiled3



65” x 52”x 9” – Mixed Media

While driving through Harrison, Arkansas, I passed a dusty ‘compound’ on the edge of town
with a large gate and numerous confederate flags marking the surrounding property lines as well
as the gate entrance. It’s hard to miss.

With the gate and the confederate flags being such a strong visual to me, I picked up this old
wooden gate in an antique shop around the area, and wanted to create a piece that reflects the
entrance into the dark world of White Supremacy. Antiquated, but still standing, in secrecy and
anger intertwined with hatred, ignorance and fear. The two wood boards on each end, as well
as the hinges and barbed wire were not original to the gate but were added. I then cut the flat
tops of the gate pickets into a ‘hood’ image and carved a faded white Confederate Flag into the
wood to represent the same flags from the compound. When I positioned the lighting at a 45
degree angle, it then created ‘ghosts’ behind the gate, lending an element of recognition to the
old term ‘Invisible Empire’ from back in the day.

WHITEWASH is comprised of wood, metal and paint.

V.L. Cox-End Hate series-Whitewash



70” x 28.5”x 4” – Mixed Media

This piece was created after I read about “Klan Camp” for kids held this summer at
the National Ku Klux Klan headquarters in Harrison, Arkansas. The teddy bear is
facing backwards to represent the loss of innocence, and addresses children and early
indoctrination. This screen door is also part of my “Images of the American South”
screen door series. This long running, 24 year narrative body of work is registered
with the Library of Congress and tells the story of the South.

WHITE BREAD is comprised of wood, metal and paint.

V.L. Cox-End Hate series-WhiteBread



41″ x 48″ x 5″ – Mixed Media

“Old Glory” is a sculptural piece made out of vintage steel and cloth. This old blue steel has been
knocked around until it appears ruined and damaged, but is still as strong as ever. I couldn’t
even bang out some of the dents with a sledgehammer. It was then I decided to use it for this
piece. I for one am sick and tired of all the crazy, narcissistic ’Reality TV’ drama that has torn
our country apart. I wanted to do a piece to show that even though we take a pounding,
regardless of our stance or differences, I still believe that we are Americans, our country is
strong, and freedom, equality and justice FOR ALL will prevail.

OLD GLORY is comprised of metal, cloth, and paint.

V. L. Cox-End Hate series-Glory



Mixed Media Installation – 109″ x 60″ x 25″

I created “No Vacancy” from old 9 foot tall church steeple from the Delta after reading the story
the Arkansas Times did on a young man in northern Arkansas who received a letter in the mail
from his church telling him he was immediately being removed from their membership records
because he was gay, and then another story about a man who had to actually move his deceased
partner’s grave due to the threats in Baxter County. The worker for the monument company
who was moving the tombstone was even approached and threatened by a man with a Bowie
knife in a Wal Mart parking lot of “why he had that ‘faggot’s’ headstone in the back of the
truck.” Stories like this are all to common today and I don’t think this is what Christ had in mind
when he told people to ‘love thy neighbor.’

NO VACANCY is comprised of wood, metal, plastic, electrical lighting and paint.

V.L. Cox-End Hate series-1 NoVacancy

V.L. Cox-End Hate series-NoVacancy2



36″ x 56″ x 2.5″ – Mixed Media

Represents the damage the extreme faction of the ‘Tea Party’ has done to our country when the
pages of the Bible are ripped out of context and used to harm others. It’s made up of over six
hundred and six (606) pages of the Bible made into tea bags with real tea inside. I started at the
bottom with Leviticus, with an entire bible being used in this piece as well as part of another

STAINED is comprised of paper, paint, black tea, string and wood.

V.L. Cox-End Hate series-Stained

V.L. Cox-End Hate series-Stained2



74″ x 34″ x 21″ – Mixed Medium Installation

Being a rational, concerned individual is one thing. Reckless panic is another. Created out of an
old Craftsman front porch column “Home of the Brave” represents the ridiculous level of ‘Fear’
that is being intentionally streamed into our homes to separate us as Americans today. Fear fuels
mistrust, repression and hatred among neighbors. Yes, there are things we need to take care of,
but keeping a level head, checking facts, and not taking direction from emotionally charged
individuals or media sources that are bent on monetary or personal gain is the solution. Truth is
the key to our safety, security and happiness. America doesn’t need to “be great again,” it never
stopped being great, and don’t let anyone motivated by self-interest or fear tell you otherwise.

HOME OF THE BRAVE is comprised of wood, metal, and epoxy.

V.L. Cox-End of Hate series-Homeofthebrave

V.L. Cox-End Hate series-Brave2

V.L. Cox-End Hate series-Brave4



54” x 15”x 14” – Mixed Media Installation

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the
heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” – Ezekiel 36:26.

This piece represents the convenient loss of humanity toward others in this digital age. While
talking in great lengths to a friend one day about an idea I had for a project on this subject, she
mentioned one of her favorite biblical quotes that went along with the stone heart I had just
carved. I actually liked it. Bottom line, regardless of your beliefs it’s up to all of us to make the
efforts to open our hearts to others before any change can take place.

I chiseled the stone heart with an air hammer, and the old rusted barbed wire came from property blessed by a church. The base is an antique craftsman style porch column representing the foundations and lessons of the South. The light represents hope.

There’s always hope…

PILLAR is comprised of wood, rusted barbed wire, stone, electric lighting, epoxy, and wood.

V.L. Cox-End Hate series-Pillar

V.L. Cox-End Hate series-Pillar2



25.5″ x 33.5″ x10″ – Mixed Media

Represents how careless, reckless and forceful the bible can be thrown around these days here in
the South. At times, it’s as casual as shooting a sign as you drive by it, or hitting the sign with a
beer bottle. Original vintage bible cover over wood with gold leaf, mounted on the end of a
1939 Coca Cola box cooler.

READY, AIM, FIRE AND BRIMSTONE is comprised of metal, wood, paper and Tibetan
gold leaf.

V.L. Cox-End Hate series-ReadyAimFireandBrimstone



57″ x 47″ x5.5″ – Mixed Media

This piece was created after reading about the numerous black churches that were being burned
down through the south after the Charleston Massacre. The stained glass window is from 1896
and the brass fire extinguisher is from the 1920’s. Both come from old churches in South
Arkansas. The wooden background is made from an old church pew from off Roosevelt Road in
Little Rock, Arkansas and burned along with old wallpaper attached to it.

BLESSED ASSURANCE is comprised of glass, metal and wood.

V.L. Cox-End Hate series-BlessedAssurance

V.L. Cox-End Hate series-BlessedAssurance2



23.25″ X 17.75″ X 5.5″ – Mixed Media

When hate escalates to violence, it IS an emergency. It’s time to go back to the basics, start from
the beginning, and learn to talk to one another. This is why I used an image of a simple child’s
toy for the subject matter. The glass front is a resized 1950 wooden window, mounted on a
vintage mercantile display case from the 40’s.

IT’S TIME WE START OVER AND TALK ABOUT HATE is comprised of glass, metal,
plastic, natural fiber, paint, and wood.

V.L. Cox-End Hate series-It'sTimeWeTalked



42″ x 70″ – Mixed Media

Old church chalkboard from the 1930’s with a vintage school bus ‘stop’ light. It represents how
early we need to teach our children about stopping hate.

STOP HATE is comprised of paper, wood, glass, metal and paint.

V.L. Cox-End Hate series-stophate

V.L. Cox-End Hate series-stophate2


V.L. CoxArtist: V.L. Cox

V.L. Cox was born in Shreveport Louisiana and raised in Arkansas. She acquired a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Henderson State University in 1991. Cox’s recent work has been highly active in projects that involve Human Rights and Equality. In 2015, she launched her National “End Hate” Installation Series, an anti-discrimination series that was placed twice on the steps of the Arkansas State Capitol, and then at the base of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Cox understands how to draw the viewer into her work through her experience with working with large audiences. While working as an artist in Dallas, Texas, Cox worked in the scenic industry constructing and painting large backdrops for theatrical organizations such as the Dallas Opera, the Dallas Ballet, and the Los Colinas Film Studios. Some of the productions include: The Nutcracker and Phantom of the Opera. Cox also painted the background for the National Civil Rights Humanities Awards in Memphis, Tennessee where Leah Rabin, wife of slain Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, spoke and presented the award for freedom.

People and surroundings heavily influence Cox’s work. Over the years she has developed
a growing interest in historical preservation while portraying a southern way of life. Cox
currently resides in North Little Rock, Arkansas and has been painting for 26 years. She
works as a full time-artist and her work can be found in international private and
corporate collections. Her progress in the art world has been rapid.

Website: http://www.greatfineart.com/


That Moment When Artists Snap

by Carla Aaron-Lopez

Carla writes about the experience of being an emerging artist. Her previous posts are: Notes from kingCARLA, Notes from kingCARLA 2, Notes from kingCARLA 3.

Kevin Bongang, Mural in Edgewood neighborhood, Atlanta

Kevin Bongang, Mural in Edgewood neighborhood, Atlanta

“Kevin just snapped,” said Corey. And he did.

One year, his drawings looked a certain way and the next year they were on another level. They took on their own whimsical nature unlike the controlled squiggles that Kevin was known for drawing. His color palette no longer looked like someone studying color but of a man that had created his own world and the colors informed the mood of the characters that inhabited this make-believe space. I was blown away by someone that I felt had potential but wasn’t sure where he was going with all that. Half of the time I don’t even know where I’m going.

I had this conversation about Kevin with Corey, an artist friend of mine, a few years ago before I left Atlanta. Corey is another person that also snapped when it came to his art. It is his series of female portraits that are just striking. At the time, I didn’t really understand the ramifications of Corey’s statement about Kevin or what it meant to truly snap artistically. Years later on a spontaneous trip back to Atlanta, I saw one of Kevin’s newest public art murals and began to understand the power of snapping as an artist.

As much as I’ve studied art, there is a legit moment when the artist snaps. The work changes and evolves to an actual visual statement versus a singular creative object. Hobbyists make creative objects. Artists make visual statements that force viewers to think and see the world differently . As cliched as it is to use Picasso as an example, he snapped the day he walked into a museum, saw some African masks and changed the direction of Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. That same painting changed the entire direction and nature of modern art in the late 20th century. Picasso makes art history and we all know the rest of the story from there.

What went through his head the moment he saw those masks? We can speculate but we weren’t there nor can we go back in time to have a Being John Malkovich moment and crawl into his mind to see what he really thought.

We just know that it was at that moment, he snapped.

Honestly, I’m waiting for my moment to snap. I’m in awe and envy of my friends that have had their moment. I want to evolve but I have let fear get in the way. Fear of not making something mind-numbingly great. Fear of not hitting the black intellectual nail on the head. Fear of getting fired for making super controversial feminist (yes, I’ve finally admitted that I am a feminist) work because I’m a middle school art teacher and the list goes on. It’s these types of fears that keep me from progressing the way I would like to as an artist and I don’t know when or how I’m going to get rid of them. I’m on the side of my proverbial mountaintop but scared to continue.

Eventually, I’m going to snap too. Or just be stuck in waiting until I quit making art.

I look up to many artists that have all had that moment somewhere in their career. Sadly, majority of them are men due to the art world’s lack of compassion for all women artists. Even more sadly is that if those same women artists have never had children and it wasn’t because of a biological reason (see Frida Kahlo), I lack total respect for them. My life doesn’t align with theirs. They will never understand the beauty and harsh reality of motherhood. They will never understand the intense paranoia of doing something that could possibly take food off your table and clothes off your child’s back. Face the facts, I live in the South and Southerners don’t do controversy very well. That’s a reality for me while others can get away with it. I stand in the wings of life’s grand stage secretly applauding their controversial actions.

I’ve lacked in producing any work this past year because I’ve finally achieved the goal of getting my career as an educator and financial life together. Not only have I been concerned with making my art but seriously, how was I going to pay for this? How were supplies going to get into my home? These priorities force me to think and see art differently. Encounter new ways of executing old ideas. Boldly steal concepts from my favorite artists and force them into my fold. I figured out a long time ago that if I wanted to make the bold, controversial art, I needed for it to be large, attention-getting and everything that I feel I cannot be in public.

I want the work to be disgusting and unladylike. I want to do it under a pen name of a white man and totally fuck with the perception of gender and power because why not? White men rule the art world. I want the work to have everything that you hate in it. Pictures of outer space and shit. Big, fat ass strippers because why not? Throw in little nods to slavery and the black experience here and there because black and white people love that shit.

Maybe I have snapped and I don’t know it yet.

Maybe I’m fantasizing again.

Or maybe I’m bored and unchallenged because I am a middle school art teacher who spends nothing but time sharpening my foundational sword.

There’s only so much I can do right now in this moment.

–    Ms. Lopez


Carla Aaron-Lopez photoArtist: Carla Aaron-Lopez

Instagram: @iamkingcarla

Twitter: @teachkingcarla


Postcolonial Thoughts: Arnika Dawkins Gallery Panel Discussion “On Being Black” at Spelman


Arnika Dawkins Gallery is honored to present On Being Black, a provocative and groundbreaking invitational photography exhibition. On Being Black features work by 23 nationally renowned, mid-career and emerging fine art photographers. The show explores issues of race, colorism and racial identity. The exhibition and the accomplished artists who are in participation endeavor to continue the conversation about race as well as attempt to make sense of the daily news; exploring the questions of how does one identify them self, who defines race and what does it mean to be black in the new millennium. On Being Black provides an intelligent point of view with distinct and observant voices on this topic…On display Fri Oct 16 to Jan 22 2016 A visual dialogue about race in America created by some of the most highly sought after artist [sic] of our time utilizing the medium of photography http://www.adawkinsgallery.com/black.html


Renee Cox Liberation of Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben http://artinfo-images-350.s3.amazonaws.com/asi2-85688/233.jpg

Renee Cox Liberation of Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben


Obstacles to pursuing an artistic practice while being Black

Please join the Arnika Dawkins Gallery, Atlanta Celebrates Photography, and the Museum for a panel discussion featuring artists Sheila Pree BrightAlbert ChongAllen CooleyRenée CoxDelphine FawunduJohn Pinderhughes, and Deborah Willis, Ph.D.  The panel discussion will be moderated by Kirsten Pai Buick, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Art History at The University of New Mexico.

This program is organized in conjunction with the exhibition On Being Black, on view at the Arnika Dawkins Gallery from October 16, 2015 to January 22, 2016.  This provocative and groundbreaking exhibition will feature work by 23 nationally renowned, mid-career and emerging fine art photographers and explores issues of race, colorism, and racial identity. http://museum.spelman.edu/programs/on-being-black-a-panel-discussion/


This article is not a critique of the photography displayed in the exhibition. It is a reflection on the discussion by a number of artists that participated in the Anika Gallery exhibition at Spelman Museum on October 17, 2015 11a.m. The discussion began as most discussions do, going down the line waiting for individual responses with a moderator fielding the questions. These were general questions that were meant to engage the artist practice and issues that each artist may have come across and might have to endure over their career, to which each artist readily and candidly replied.

The timbre of the discussion began to change once Renee Cox sparked the notion that she does not believe in such issues or obstacles. Moreover these “issues” are choices made by artists that blocked their own development. Cox went further to share a story of her father, a British citizen before Jamaica received its independence in 1964, who came to Florida in 1940. He immediately went to the Fontainebleau, at that time segregated. At which point he walked through the front door and argued with the Hotel owner for thirty minutes after which stayed in a room there for two nights. The point Cox made was that sometimes you need to be ignorant of boundaries and demand your space. One can choose to accept these obstacles or ignore them and pursue an individual pursuit. Sure there are situations that can affect the outcome, but if that stops someone’s progress then that individual should choose another profession.



Albert Chong, also a Jamaican artist, seconded Cox’s position and shared his arrival in America, when he was introduced to its specialized racism. Chong also acknowledge the wish for a Caucasian avatar to present his work and navigate the art world. Then Chong added another brick to the fire by explaining the difference as to the misconception of Jamaican pride. He went on to clarify the point by saying that this pride may be perceived as arrogance, but it is not…It is self-love. Self-love is a requirement to overcoming obstacles and pursuing one’s own career.


African American leisure as a form of resistance

Sheila Pree Bright untitled #34 suburbia series http://www.artsatl.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Bright.jpg

Sheila Pree Bright untitled #34 suburbia series


John Pinder Hughes and Sheila Pree Bright both offered another requirement as a form of resistance leisure. Pree Bright discussed the pushback on her suburbia series by White board members that did not believe her photographs of Black homes. One of her critics was bold enough to say “I’ve never heard of this Black suburbia”. Pree Bright went on to identify the problem from a White perspective is that the images did not have enough Black identifiers in it-no watermelons, Martin Luther King, references that made the suburbia African American. In this case suburbia becomes more militant than the overt images of Blackness.

Hughes discussed his work that captured African American leisure in the Hamptons over decades and how that is important to the overall make-up of the Black image. The Black image is not this monolithic icon always struggling. Hughes’s leisure is resistance of limitations placed on Blackness.


John Pinder Hughes Pretty for a Black Girl, 1998 http://www.adawkinsgallery.com/black/0006.html

John Pinder Hughes
Pretty for a Black Girl, 1998


Global Blackness

Delphine Fawundu What Do They Call Me? My Name is Aunt Sarah, 2010 http://www.adawkinsgallery.com/black/0002.html

Delphine Fawundu
What Do They Call Me? My Name is Aunt Sarah, 2010


Dlephine Fawundu rounded out the discussion from a Brooklyn, Mali, Sierra Leone, Ghana perspective. She discussed how when people from Brooklyn see the images of Ghanaians and vice versa, there is a familiarity of exchange, a recognition of blood. This resounded with another sentiment presented by Albert Chong.

Chong said he was the youngest of nine children to Jamaican/Chinese parents and most of his time was spent learning who the extended family was. He said most of his learning and understanding of his history came from photo albums. Those photo albums gave him a foothold as to his place in in his family as well as the world. Chong alluded to a loss of memory due to the fact that we do not have an intact photo album. Fawundu’s work certainly are building blocks for a restoration of memory.

The crowd kept asking questions until finally they had to be stopped. The discussion ended up being a small global panel as to how artists can pursue their career with fearlessness, leisure, documentation and self-love. Definitely need more discussions on this.


Christopher HutchinsonChristopher Hutchinson is an accomplished Jamaican conceptual artist, professor and contributor to the art community as a writer, critic and founder of the nonprofit Smoke School of Art. He is a Professor of Art at Atlanta Metropolitan State College and has been featured as a lecturer including prestigious engagements at University of Alabama and the Auburn Avenue Research Library. For two decades, Chris has been a practicing artist. His works have been exhibited in internationally recognized institutions including City College New York (CUNY) and featured at the world’s leading international galleries such as Art Basel Miami. He has always had an innate passion for creating spaces where Africans and people of African descent contribute to an inclusive contemporary dialogue—ever evolving, not reflexive but pioneering. This requires challenging the rubric of the canon of art history, a systemic space of exclusion for the Other: women and non-Whites, and where necessary he rewrites it. He received his Master of Fine Arts Degree in Painting from Savannah College of Art & Design, Atlanta and his Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Alabama.

Notes from kingCARLA 3


In Post-Partum Document, artist Mary Kelly explores the mother-child relationship.

In Post-Partum Document, artist Mary Kelly explores the mother-child relationship.


By Carla Aaron-Lopez

kingCARLA  writes about the experience of being an emerging artist. Her previous posts are  Notes from kingCARLA and Notes from kingCARLA 2.

Last time I was in this space, I was complaining commenting about being an emerging artist. I made statements about getting over rejection and pushing to make more work instead of being such a procrastinator. I’m still a procrastinator actually but soon after, I began working two jobs and my tune has changed a bit transforming into something else. At this point, I’ve joined the American workforce as a middle school art educator while I work the retail slave ship on the weekends slinging slacks to 40-year old men that wish to look younger. It’s a heavy load to work seven days a week constantly but I’ve got a child that needs stability. I’m a parent, yo. An artist and a parent. Add in the fact that I’m a woman and you’ve got a black unicorn on your hands.

And how is this possible, you say?

Like this.

Art is my life but my son is bigger than art. Sometimes, art has to be put on the backburner staying warm for him to have a home to live in, proper clothes to wear and yummy food to eat. I’m not breaking up with art. I just have to take long pauses here and there. Recently, I came across an article that I actually agreed with on Hyperallergic. It was a weekend long-read titled The Problem of the Overlooked Female Artist: An Argument for Enlivening a Stale Model of Discussion written by Ashton Cooper. Hell of a title. I commend Cooper or the copyeditor for thinking of that.

I became enlivened by her perspective on the redundant language used to talk about women artists. Cooper sourced numerous articles released about women artists throughout 2014 in which the language used to speak about them was either truly stale and unimaginative or spoke about a woman artist in a rediscovered fashion as if she was a fly on the wall during big historical moments in art but really she was an active and vocal artist the entire time the big historical moment in art was going down. Check out this excerpt from the article about Phyllida Barlow in which the author quoted an article from The Guardian circa March 2014:

She’s taught everyone from Martin Creed to Rachel Whiteread, but it’s only now, at 70, that Barlow is getting her dues as an artist.

Barlow, who turns 70 this week, has spent her adult life making sculpture, enjoying her greatest success by far over the last 10 years.

She went on to the Slade until 1966, and then began teaching, and having children; she and Peake have five in all. […] In those days, she was working in total isolation.

The part I highlighted in bold stood out quite strong to me. Especially the part that says she was working in total isolation. I guess when you have five children, everything is all about your children. Hell, I only have one! My guess is that art never went onto the backburner for Barlow as it has for me but I know it wasn’t always on the forefront either with her being a teacher and a wife. My other guesses include that she was never in isolation with five children and she eventually had to learn how to become an effective teacher. I may not know much about Barlow but I can relate to her story if those are the only tidbits I ever learn about her.

The article comes to an apex while speaking about Barbara Hepworth, her married life and her cavorting with the international art world and comes to close with fascinating information around Judy Chicago, Isa Genzken and Sarah Charlesworth’s careers with some strong questions: What was she doing then? Where was she showing? Who was she in community with? How did her practice change? What forces of exclusion did she face?”

I don’t know. The information just isn’t there. What I do know is that if reality showed up at any of these women’s doors looking like maternity then it is my hopes they assumed their new roles as mother to a child (or more) and truly began a new adventure, chapter, section of their lives. We already know the art world is notoriously white, male and sexist as well as racist. We also already know that many people believe that when a woman gets pregnant, her life is automatically over. That’s not necessarily true. If the lives of the women outlined in this article were over I think we wouldn’t be talking about them. There wouldn’t be a Tate retrospective on Barlow or MoMA’s current exhibition on Sturtevant (who’s completely new to me).

In essence, I believe they sharpened their metaphorical swords in the hours after the children went to bed or over to grandma and grandpa’s house for the weekend because that’s the only time I get to do anything regarding art. Everything becomes a juggling act that you just work out over time. I hope to make work as profound as these women but I don’t want to be 70 years old to get my recognition for it. That’s that bullshit if I have spent a lifetime possibly struggling to support my family on teacher pay. I’d rather take the recognition money now and create a trust fund for my son because that’s my reality in addition to art.

Too bad I wasn’t born with a dick because I wouldn’t have the ability to give birth and be weighed down with the overwhelming responsibilities of having child. Everything always falls on the mother whether a father is or isn’t present. While I care so much about art, I’ve learned that the art world doesn’t care about my child. Making the decision to sacrifice my love for art is constantly on and off the table. Every moment becomes a moment to create or think about art differently. I’m constantly sharpening my metaphorical sword as an art teacher to a group of students who could honestly give a fuck about art in the first place.

It’s hard out here for a pimp!

Based on that article and these words I’ve written, I guess I’ve got to pimp harder.


Artist: Carla Aaron-Lopez 

woke up with my horns on. fell in love with a cadillac. born/raised in charlotte, nc. baptized in the dirty south also known as atlanta.


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