From the Artist

1001 Black Men is a series of drawings inspired by the faces I see in Oakland every day, and by my memories of the family, friends, and neighbors I grew up with out east. Β In the poem “Beautiful Black Men,” Nikki Giovanni describes her love for all types of Black men, explaining that, for her, they represent “the same old danger/but a brand new pleasure.” In this series of drawings, I push past entrenched stereotypes to create images of Black men that reflect the wonderful complexity of African American lives–our history so deeply embedded in our present, our celebrations so often tempered by grief and, yes, the pleasure and danger we find in so many of the people, places, and activities that give us joy.


Ajuan M. Mance

19 thoughts on “From the Artist”

  1. hi ajuana. we met today at your show. (i’m ashley’s friend who went to Marlboro College.) my girl and i were looking at your site and she wondered how you do your drawings, how you get the colors in there. you had mentioned getting some sketches done while in staff meetings πŸ™‚ and so now i’m wondering how you get to your finished product.

    i love your work. didn’t get to share that because we were talking about other things.

    take care.


  2. Hi Cris,
    Thanks for coming to our show. I’m glad you like me work. It’s truly a labor of love, and it means a lot to hear that people are enjoying my drawings. Making the drawings is a three-step process. I do all of my drawings in pen on paper. Then I scan them into my computer. The last step is when I add color using Photoshop. I can also add effects like backgrounds based on altered photographs taken by me or pulled from archival sites. All in all, it’s a lot of fun and always a challenge to come up with each posted drawing.

    Do check in from time to time. I’m always adding more art.

    Thanks again,


  3. It’s really nice to read about your three-step process, very interesting. I like your work a lot and your philosophy / vision about it. Will keep on following you πŸ™‚

  4. I’m so glad you like my work. It’s been an interesting process developing–not really a sense of my own process so much as a way of articulating that process. I like your work, too, and I really appreciate your support.

  5. Hello Ajuan, finally I came back to Twitter and followed your link – of course, as I am really loving your face-drawings. As you might remember I had almost the same intension when I started my FaceBoxes. As for today I will start the last 150 boxes which are left to get painted and will be exhibited by the end of August.
    Sending you my best wishes and friendly greetings from Germany – Jorgino

  6. Hi! I’ve missed seeing you on Twitter. I’m glad you’re back. Thanks for checking in at I’ve got some interesting new stuff coming up, including a zine of drawings from the website. I look forward to seeing you work again. Welcome back!

  7. Hi! We’ll be having another one of our Art of Zine exhibits this May and I’d love it if you could submit your zine(s) to it.

    Feel free to check out our gallery here: and email me if you can join us.

  8. Hi Cherri,

    Thanks for the invite. I would love to submit I’ll check your gallery website and email you for more information.



  9. Hi Ajuan,

    Didn’t see your email address at a glance, so I’m leaving a comment here. I featured your awesome project on my blog – One Brown Crafter – which you can view at It’ll also be posted on my Facebook page later this morning at You’re invited to become part of OBC’s Networking Collective and stay plugged into the blog for upcoming projects that you may want to be involved in. Have a great day and congratulations on your wonderful project!

  10. Hi Tracy,

    Thanks so much for featuring my project on your blog. I’ll definitely check it out, and I’ll also join the OBC Networking Collective. I’m so pleased that you contacted me and that you enjoy my work.


  11. Ajuan,

    I’m also an artist in the bay area, but just became aware of your work from a friend in London. I really love your aesthetic and process!! I’d like to see your work in person..

    Best Wishes,

  12. Hi Shannon,

    Thanks for writing! I’m so pleased that you’re enjoying the drawings in this series. It’s also great to know that someone in London has seen my work! I’ll be sure to post here about when and where I’ll be showing my next. I do know that I’ll be participating in the May Art Murmur/First Fridays event in Oakland. I’ll be one of about 40 artists at Uptown Body and Fender, 401 26th St, Oakland, CA 94612. Do drop by if you get the chance.

    PS: I took a quick look at your website, and I really like your work. I’m going to check it out in a little more detail later, but I just wanted to say I like your color and your line work.

  13. Hello Ajuan,

    It’s DJ Lamont. I am following up with you about your art. Your images are wonderful and fun. I like the anecdotes behind each men. I am ready to work with you when you are. Let me know.

    Lamont Young
    415 370 3014

  14. DJ Lamont,
    Thanks for coming to my site. I’d love to collaborate with you. Let’s get in touch. I look forward to speaking with you.

  15. Hi Ajuan,

    I had the pleasure of seeing an exhibit of your work at the California Institute for Integral Studies last week. As I walked into the corridor where your art was hanging (the larger pieces on one side, the smaller ones grouped close together in rows on the other) I was immediately drawn in by the range of faces and expressions. I said, “Oooh, this is INTERESTING.” And then I saw your name. And I said, “I know HER!” I was with a friend who works at CIIS and with my boyfriend who recently moved to the Bay area and is thinking about going to school at CIIS. The three of us had a great, rich conversation about the paintings and sketches. The afro pick, the heart shape on the chest, the mask-like angles of the faces, the resonant juxtapositions of historical, photographic images with very contemporary scenes… There was so much to take in. Your artist’s statement was beautiful too. Anyway, not sure if you remember me. I was a couple of years ahead of you at Brown, but we had a few friends in common. I’m glad to see what you’re doing now and I wish you very well!! Peace, Rachel

  16. Rachel,

    What a small world! I absolutely remember you from Brown! If memory serves, we once had a poetry reading together, and I loved your work and the way you performed it. I’m so glad you enjoyed my show. I’ve been working on this project for a bout 4 years now, and it’s been an amazing journey. I’ve learned a lot about my subject and, not suprisingly, I’ve also learned a lot about myself. CIIS is the first place I’ve had the opportunity to show a large number of the images, and I’ve really enjoyed the experience. It’s great to hear that something I’ve really created as a labor of love has really resonated with people. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments about the art and about the artist’s statement. So great to hear from you. Wishing you well, too! All the best, Ajuan

  17. Thanks for writing. Oakland keeps me inspired, for sure. Stay tuned. I’ll be posting new work this week.

  18. Hi Dr. Mance,

    I really enjoyed your artist’s talk this weekend at the Berkeley Public Library. Thank you so much for sharing your work and making it accessible. I loved the Junteenth Series that you were showing and I was wondering if any of those are for sale or viewable on the internet somewhere. I was telling Joyelle Baker (your former student) about the series and I wanted to show them to her. Thank you again!

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