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Artist Talk: Donald Sawyer, Jr. - Delta Arts Center
  • 28 Feb 16
    • AUTHOR Magalie Yacinthe
    • CATEGORY Blog

    Artist Talk: Donald Sawyer, Jr.


    Works during the Invitational 2016 include  Raggedy Ann (2015, oil & acrylic on wood panel, 32″x48″, $800) and RIP Trayvon (2015, oil on canvas, 30″x30″, $400)

    1. Tell us about yourself. Who you are and what you do? What’s your background? How do you identify; is cultural identity at the front of your work/process?

    I am a first year graduate student at Western Carolina University. I obtained my Bachelors degree from WSSU Magna Cum Laude. I am a lifelong resident of Winston-Salem and my interests are drawing and acrylic and oil painting. I am currently using African American figures to show people from the Bible, due to the fact that we are underrepresented in those stories. I feel as though mainstream society has removed much of our Black history and it is my aim to show we were there from the beginning. I also paint and draw works based on the racial and discriminatory practices of today.

    1. For decades and particularly during this country’s civil rights movement, many high profile artists of color were expected to represent that struggle in their work. When they did not they were often called out and criticized by peers and movement leaders for not moving the cause forward. Do you feel it’s your responsibility to promote social change, cultural reflection, race, gender, class issues, etc. in your artwork?

    If not I then who will? This is how I approach my works. Everything we do as a black race is scrutinized  much harder than any other race of people. I have a gift from God and God made me black, so I must show all the grace and goodness  of my culture, along with our struggles.

    1. What other ways can artists/activists engage the movement outside of developing lyrics, music, images that speaks specifically to the movement?

    Artist and activist must teach the youth about our past so they will know how powerful they are at a young age. We must sit down and talk the way our grandparents talked to us, face to face.

    1. Black women have always been an integral part of American civil rights movements, but women have not always received the credit for their work. Which black women do you believe currently embody the spirit of the black women activists of the past?

    The author Belle Hook, because of her passion for the African American experience in feminism,  racism and, financial inequality, and although not an activists per say, Michelle Obama, will forever be a beacon to our young black daughters, due to the fact that she has been a strong beautiful presence during our first black reign of the US presidency without all the drama that  white society tried to bring forth.

    1. How do artists with less exposure engage in the movement? In what ways could their lack of public exposure work on their behalf?

    Artist must create and be involved in the local level wherever they reside.  Many changes,  good and bad happen at the local level, especially with government issues that mandate how we live and survive . Lack of public exposure will never work for an artist if no one sees their work.