Not silent confession | South Florida Times

Miami, Florida – A movement to showcase the artworks of talented black women artists from South Florida has made its way to Liberty City for a month-long exhibition bringing recognition of their creative gifts.

Without Silence: Embracing the Black Woman’s Voice runs through October 14 at Liberty Square Community Center, 6304 NW 14th Ave. and displays paintings and drawings by five local Sudanese women artists: Alfrena Moosa, Aptiva Ferguson, Johanne Hampstead Lam, Winsome Bold and Wanda Paulette Harris, curator.

The women are part of the Liberty City Artist Exchange, a group that raises awareness and pays black women artists to gain recognition for their artwork in an effort to have their drawings and paintings hung on walls in museums and art galleries.

Harris, 69, who has been drawing since she was in elementary school, said she started the movement because she and other black female artists have been playing second-hand artists for years. Discovering some facts, Harris discovers that disdain goes back to the 1960s, when white female artists decided to protest to get their share of recognition.

“The exhibition is for black women artists only and a unique experience and opportunity to showcase their artwork,” Harris said. “I’ve discovered that black women artists are limited in where their work can be exhibited. This is something that has been happening for a long time. Cultural arts painters and photographers, and black artists are in the last row for recognition of their work.”

Harris, who was born in Melbourne, Florida, said her vision for more exposure to the work of black female artists is to garner support from the community and sponsors.

“Artists who struggle for exposure get very little opportunity to display their artwork,” Harris said. “So, we collect them and talk about my vision. Art is unique and has different parameters including fairy tale and composition that captures everyday women. Such artworks should be recognized because they tell stories of the emotional state of black women and the daily lives they go through.”

Harris said local art galleries owners don’t want to invest in artwork from black women because they don’t think it’s priceless.” “They didn’t want art from black women,” she said.

She said she’s been an artist since she was a little girl, started in school and competed in art competitions. She said that over the years she learned to explore art history and developed her own style, including the use of Cubism, which are curvilinear designs with skeletal squares and a triangular configuration. Harris said she also uses watercolors in her paintings.

She painted during her spare time when she was the assistant CEO and CFO of a local corporate tech company, but she said being an artist was her real goal in life. When the company ceased operations, Harris said it was an opportunity to pursue art as a full-time career and launched the movement for more exposure to black female artists.

Harris said art galleries rejected her work but pushed and eventually had her artwork hung at art galleries in Coral Gables and Pembroke Pines. Now, she is striving to achieve the same success for young talented artists.

Ferguson, 27, said the non-silent art gallery is an opportunity for black female artists to get notice of their work. She said the feedback has been positive so far. She said one of her paintings, The Creation of All Things, was inspired by her grandmother, who died of cancer in August.

The work is overlaid with a photograph of a young woman of her grandmother as another woman crosses Devil’s Bridge in Arizona. Ferguson said her drawings depict the natural beauty of the relationship between black women and the land and how her grandmother was the beginning of it all.

“The relationship was sacred, as she collected food and medicine and took care of the family on the floor,” she said. “I used my grandmother’s face because she was everything to me and my family. Part of my drawing describes her in a better place now.”

Ferguson, who works in nails for a living, said her goal is to press hard and produce more artwork with acrylic paint, which is her favorite. She uses her skill when doing other people’s nails. “I am passionate about my art,” she said. “I want to display all my paintings.”

Moses, 33, said she has participated in many art fairs, but the Un-Silenced event is the first for black women. She said she is upset when people suspect that she is the originator of her work.

“Even when I was at school or walking down the street with my artwork, people would ask, ‘Who is this artwork for? Black women don’t get recognition for their artwork.

One of Musa’s works, The Invisible Queen, describes multiple colors in the background and the women blend by holding hands in a poetic pose. A woman holds a crown created for another woman who is the Queen. Moses said her message is that women who hold hands are stronger together and can overcome any obstacles.

Moses said she has been drawing since childhood, starting at Norland Middle School, graduating from Miami International University of Art and Design, and has taught art at private entities and rehab centers for 11 years. She now teaches art therapy at Camillus House and other centers through the Art Department in her church. Musa said that during the COVID-19 pandemic, she became a certified art life therapy coach to help people relieve stress and anxiety through art.

“With art, people think they have a talent for experiencing art therapy as the colors they use to reflect how they feel,” she said. “For example, if they use red, it may mean that they are angry, or if they use yellow, it reflects happiness. Describing how you feel is the story of your strength. In the end, they feel happy and satisfied.”

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