Black History Month: An Inclusive, More Equitable World, Please

CarolAnn Edscorn "Meeting of LIke Minds"

“For while we have our eyes of the future, history has its eyes on us. This is the era of just redemption we feared at its inception.”
Amanda Gorman

Compiled by Keri Bowers

The Art of Autism recognizes the vital historical contributions made by black Americans throughout history via the eyes and art of #actuallyautisticartists and allies in this Black History Month Series. As we wind down BHM with this 4th blog in our series of 6, we think one of the best, most awe-inspiring things that happened earlier this year leading up to BHM, was Amanda Gorman’s poem-speak, “The Hill We Climb.”

Propelled to the international spotlight for Biden’s Inauguration on January 20th, Gorman’s poem was felt palatably around the world at a time when we, the peoples of the world, desperately needed a bold reminder of the powers of unity and healing. And yet, we still have a long way to go to achieve reconciliation, repair, and racial equality.

While Gorman’s powerful words did much to inspire and ignite important conversations, words alone are not enough to transform a long history of injustice, violence, and inequity. We must find ways to “live into” the landscape of which she spoke.

Gorman’s words moved us, informing our ideas, and now, it is incumbent upon us to take further action to transform systemic prejudice, into equity and equality for all.

We encourage you to continue, long after Black History Month is past, to consider every day is the day to direct efforts to stamp out hate and prejudice in our own lives and communities.

The Art of Autism thanks you for your mindful action towards a kinder, more inclusive, equitable world.

Sophie Gonzalez "Oprah"
Sophie Gonzalez “Oprah”

“Honor your calling, everybody has one. Trust your heart, and success will come to you.”
Oprah Winfrey

Sophie Gonzalez created “Oprah” on Apple iPad using the Procreate app – without a stylus pen. She opted for a more painterly-like finish, rather than a “very digital type” application.

Sophie loves Oprah Winfrey because she likes powerful women in history. She is amazed by Oprah’s helpful and generous contributions to underprivileged children and families all over the world.

Sophie’s mother supported her daughter to submit this image for Black History Month with the following note: “We hope and pray Sophie’s (art) satisfies and meets your expectations. Thank you so much! Mommy Fatima Gonzales.”

We can definitely say, “Yes, yes, and yes! We love Sophie’s ‘Oprah’.”

Tynesha Carlton "Edmonia Lews"
Tynesha Carlton “Edmonia Lewis”

“I think Black History Month means don’t give up and keep trying until you succeed. When Edmonia Lewis got expelled from Oberlin College for being falsely accused of stealing as well as poisoning her classmates, it didn’t stop her from being a sculptor because her success as a sculptor took her to Rome, where she flourished as well as produced her sculptures.

“I did a colorful drawing of Edmonia Lewis who is a sculptor. I drew her very well, then colored it so beautifully. I blended orange and green together for the background.

“I wanted to submit these two artworks for consideration in the 2021 Black History Month exbibit for Art of Autism. I normally don’t title my artworks anymore, I just use ‘Untitled’ for them, although if that is a problem, I can come up with something, so let me know. I kind of prefer to leave it to the viewer to read into it what they will.”

Maranda Russell "Untiltled" Mixed Media Collage
Maranda Russell “Untitled” Mixed Media Collage

The first artwork is a mixed media collage. I created it with the intention to celebrate strong, independent, successful women of all kinds, something I admire and strive to emulate! Over the years, I have made a few collages featuring women like that of all sizes, shapes, and colors. I find them to be beautiful and inspirational.

Maranda Russell "Untitled"
Maranda Russell “Untitled”

“The second artwork is oil pastel. This artwork was inspired by a photo of a sports athlete. I really liked the vibrancy and life he brought to the photo and wanted to capture it in a more abstract, colorful way.

“How does that happen?

“When I was a little kid, I remember wondering why we had a separate month for black history, and why they didn’t just mix it in with all the regular history throughout the school year. It never made sense to me back then. I guess I was innocent and naive back then, but I’m glad that at least we did learn some things about black history. Without it, we would have missed so much.

“Even with what we did learn though, I find it very sad that to this day I find out about important figures in black history that I’ve never even heard of before. People that never should have been left out of my education. I try to correct that by educating myself, but we definitely need to improve in that area massively.

“Another truly sad thing?

“I went to an elementary school called Washington Carver (named for George Washington Carver) from Kindergarten until 5th grade and never once knew it was named after a black man until way after I was gone from the school. How does that happen?”

Follow Maranda at marandarussell.com

Insert Image #6 Marvin Gaye, by Austin Jones

“Marvin Gaye is one of the greatest soul legends of all time in my eyes. His music empowers everyone who hears it. Singing about love, heartbreak, and even at time political and economic crisis Marvin did more than just sing, he changed the world. And in doing so, changed me. I love this guy.”

Follow Austin John Jones here.

A Proclamation on National Black History Month, 2021 from the Whitehouse

Click here to read President Biden’s Proclamation 2021

Special thanks to Studio by the Tracks, for your contributions to AoA’s Black History Month by submitting participating artists Tynesha Carlton (herein, Series 4), and Michael Hall, Series 1. Studio by The Tracks is a studio and gallery for adult artists with autism spectrum disorders. We provide a social network and a career path that enriches our artists’ lives and betters our community. Artists receive 60% of any sale of their art works. The studio provides all services and materials to artists free of charge. You can visit their website to check them out here https://studiobythetracks.org/

Keep your eyes out for our final 2, in our series honoring Black History Month, a celebration of vital, black historical and contemporary black individuals who have shaped the world. Next month: Women’s History Month.

Cover image: CarolAnn Edscorn “Meeting of Like Minds” Created on iPad Pro.

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