This is the second of two drawings I created to celebrate reaching the midpoint of this project. I create at least one new drawing every day, based on the African American men I’ve encountered around Oakland and other Bay Area cities. When I travel to other cities, I draw the African American men I see there. I don’t draw from models. Instead, when I get home in the evening, or when I have a quiet moment between classes or appointments (which is not all that often), I think back to the people I encountered that day and I draw the men who really stood out in my mind. Part of the benefit of drawing from memory (a preference shared by Love and Rockets co-creator Jamie Hernandez, by the way) is that it has enabled me to really focus on and consider the limits of my own gaze on the Black male subject. It’s been edifying, as I have shared at various points during the first 500 drawings.
Many people have asked me why I’ve chosen to do 1001 drawings. More interesting than the reasons why I have chosen this number of drawings are the benefits of doing such a large volume of drawings on the same subject. The greatest benefit is that it has given me a chance to understand the limits of my own vision. This takes time and, in some very real ways, it took me around 300 drawings to figure out exactly how it was that see Black men. Over the course of my most recent 200 drawings, I’ve been working on understanding the different ways I can use the particularity of my gaze to challenge and expand my own and (by extrapolation) others’ conceptions of the Black male subject.