The Seeds of Liberation
This week, we are thrilled to welcome our first guest blog writer! Thank you, Anna Rose Menako.
Art has been used as a tool for liberation since long before my time. Protest art, to me, is simply art. When your personhood and ethnicity is constantly politicized as a Black American, claiming space to express yourself authentically and breathe life into your artistic vision is a radical act whether you want it to be or not. As a Black Woman artist, I am continuing to learn that I have the power to hang my hat on that truth and make intentional statements in my work, informed by what I believe needs to be seen and what I need to see. While ever-present systems of oppression seem to be looming in each corner of society, Black Artists share our truth in our works in a very special way. There are endless examples of just how influential Black Art and Black American culture are to the United States, however the amount of times our labor and our culture has been and continues to be appropriated, co-opted, exploited and undervalued is countless as well.
During this time in history there is a shift that I feel happening. With so many people’s regular income being halted, no government help and bills still coming, COVID forced many of us to make serious life changes. This sense of economic and general uncertainty is stressful as is, and simultaneously watching billionaires become trillionaires, seeing case after case of police brutality, and experiencing erasure, misogynoir, and objectification as a Black Woman is a whole recipe for revolution. We cannot let symbolic gestures make us lose sight of just how much work has yet to be done. We cannot. Certainly, not when mass incarceration and poverty are still painful realities for many human beings. To me that is humility, the ability to recognize how popping, and influential, and beautiful Black culture is and how much it does not need validation, because it just IS.
I can recognize that truth while also having historical context and knowledge of how American society has continually failed, oppressed, and violently abused Black/Indigenous peoples and how that history parallels and continues today. That to me is humility. It is not being “knocked down a peg”, it is recognizing my greatness, and my people's greatness, and knowing there is so much more yet to be accomplished. As far as where to go from here, as a Black Artist my quest is to continue creating art with complete honesty and authenticity, and continue being anti-capitalist. I am honored and eternally grateful to be surrounded by such a wide range of artists who are focused on doing the same. Artists who constantly inspire and who are born to do what they do. To my fellow Black Women artists, I want you to find peace and remember the power in your presence. We would not be here if not for generations of resilience, humility, and greatness.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Anna Rose Menako is a multidisciplinary artist from Milwaukee. She works as a portrait painter and muralist, jewelry maker, and dancer/performance artist. Anna's commitment in her work is to authenticity, craftsmanship, honesty, and representation. She currently works as a freelance artist as well as with Artists Working in Education.