he Arts League of Michigan is hosting “She Be Me II,” an all-women’s art exhibition during March, Women’s History Month, at the Virgil H. Carr Cultural Arts Center. Because women artists have been historically underrepresented in the art world, Women’s History Month provides opportunities for women to secure more recognition for their contributions to the art world specifically and society in general.
Last summer, I visited the Virgil H. Carr Cultural Arts Center and was inspired by the diverse and compelling artwork that was on display, and the beauty of the Carr Center itself. As a visual artist residing in Chicago, this visit made me eager to participate in the Arts League of Michigan’s rich and thriving arts community in Detroit. Naturally, I was pleased to learn that my work had been accepted for “She Be Me II.”
Much of my work is inspired by the beauty and mystery of nature: mountain views, bodies of moving water, naked trees in winter and the sensuality of buds in the spring giving off their verdant fragrance. I am also inspired by a well-told story, such as the poetic prose of Toni Morrison. I am inspired by life, by being in a human body and engaging the senses-relishing in the scent and flavor of the spices of Indian and Ethiopian cuisine or the sounds of Alice Coltrane and Dorothy Ashby. I admire the work of women artists such as Mara Friedman with her goddess imagery, and Lee Bontecou with her wide range of styles and techniques.
With regard to style, my work ranges from abstract to cubist, expressionistic to surreal. I enjoy using a variety of media and techniques such as paint, graphite, collage and clay, to fully express what moves me. Thematically, creating imagery that inspires respect for women, mother and earth is the way in which I seek to honor the sacred feminine.
The pieces that I submitted for “She Be Me II” are “She” and “Sunkissed,” painted in acrylic on canvas. “She” is a diva with attitude. Her abstracted face-with eyes closed and lips slightly parted-is painted in warm colors. “Sunkissed” represents the range of diversity in the women of the African diaspora with women’s faces painted in various shades of color, all kissed by a red-orange sun that radiates out as the hair of the central Mother Africa image.
This bright red-orange is a color that seems to bring itself to all of my paintings. There is something soothing, yet stimulating about it. Maple leaves in autumn wear this color. It is the color that can be seen while looking at the sun with your eyes closed, bringing to mind warmth and protection…the vibe of the womb. It is a blend of the first and second chakras. I have learned that my eyes need to see this color in order to keep me spiritually balanced, grounded and creatively and aesthetically inspired.
Monica J. Brown’s artwork has been displayed regionally and nationally and is in the collections of Harold Washington College and the Lillian E. Smith Center for Creative Arts. Brown also works as a Hatha yoga instructor and Thai bodywork/Shiatsu therapist.
Virgil H. Carr Cultural Arts Center, 311 E. Grand River Ave., Detroit. 313-965-8430 or www.ArtsLeague.com.