1001 Black Men–#481

Artistic License: The Sequel

This is the second of two drawings based on my co-worker who is not African American. Race serves such a fascinating topic function in art. These two drawings gave me the opportunity to play with the idea of borders between ethnicities and identities. As I worked to make a sketch based on an Asian American subject appear recognizably African American, I also took note of when the moment occurred when this drawing of an Asian American figure began to look like a Black person. I’ve done the same thing with drawings of women (but not on this blog). It’s always interesting to see what group of lines or what type of shading transforms the appearance of a drawing from that of a woman to a man or a child to an adult or a white/Native American/Asian American person to a Black person and vice versa. Some might say that this suggests the construction of racialized identity categories. I say that to depict a figure with any identity is to construct and deconstruct that identity in the same handful of penstrokes. In the process of drawing raced figures are we not unmaking the means by which Black/White/Asian/Native American looks are made?

Ajuan Mance

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