Scott D. Allen, the artist whose work is shown in the painting below, brought up an interesting discussion the other day. It began with the following statements. "The only people who've purchased my works of African American women, have been African Americans. Do whites feel more comfortable with Asians and Asian Americans? Perhaps my Asian paintings are more popular because they're just more stylistically more suited for apartments?" I agreed that it may be a design thing. Asian Art has been En Vogue for some time now. It was not too long ago that people began to Feng Shui everything, and bamboo plants and Japanese silk screens were found in many homes. He added, "I also think that people in general, just identify more with people who look like them. Most of us don't stretch much."
|Scott Allen Art|
It was this last statement that saddened me the most. Why don't we stretch much? Why don't we go outside the boundaries of our own preconceived notions, or stretch beyond old models of art and beauty? Have we all become brainwashed? Do you have a personal style, or are you afraid to show it because it's not what the magazines are featuring? I have often forced myself to take a step back and clear my head of societal pressures regarding aesthetics, a practice I first developed at Lines Ballet. I had been taught for years that there was only one way to dance, one perfect form. Eventually, I lost my individuality. It is this personal connectedness that shapes great art. I was wedded to form and technique. When given the opportunity to improvise, I froze! Alonzo King wanted to see Aesha reflected in my dancing, and I had lost her long ago. I didn't even know how to call her forward. I think Alonzo's work was so important for me. It was my artistic medicine. While still a work in progress, my two short years at Lines Ballet laid the foundation for continued inward growth and self-expression.
None of us can say for sure why Scott's African American paintings are not selling as well as his Asian prints. The larger point is that as artists, we need to challenge stagnant, conventional and often destructive notions of beauty and find our own unique expression. An open mind is the best canvas for self-expression and creativity. If we don't step away from time to time, to evaluate just who we really are as artists, we are depriving the world of our uniqueness and real beauty. By embracing individualism, choreographers will continue stepping outside the box, and artists like Scott D. Allen will continue displaying his own vision of beauty.
WE ARE ALL CONNECTED
I recently stumbled across Tonya Plank's blog which featured The Black Swan Diaries. There was only one comment regarding the post, but one I found to be quite interesting and important to share: