Houston-based Artist Creates Incredible Portraits of Black Women
A lot has changed in the last year. From a global pandemic and civil rights protests, to natural disasters and politics, the last few months feel like a few years’ worth of events all packed into one. Art has been equally impacted, and contemporary artists are creating works right now that reflect our desires for a hopeful future – one that is not only virus-free, but also one of equality, unity, and a celebration of differences.
Delita Martin’s twenty-one new portraits of Black women in her exhibition Conjure present viewers with a profound celebration of Black women’s lives and experiences. At nearly six feet tall, each woman confidently and knowingly gazes out at her viewers, surrounded by floral and abstract designs. Martin creates her portraits as monoprints – singular prints that are each unique and different – by using silkscreen and printing techniques, drawings, decorative papers, hand-stitching, and gold leaf. Certain colors and objects, such as the color blue and birds, denote the spirit realm and showcase women’s dual natures as physical and spiritual beings.
Martin’s exhibition title, Conjure, refers to contemporary and historical religious practices of magic, hoodoo, voodoo, and rootwork. Conjuration was one of the many rituals practiced by enslaved African people shipped to British colonial North America. Religious practices such as these developed as African slaves encountered Judeo-Christian and Native American beliefs and rituals, resulting in new ceremonies, customs, and prayers that are still prevalent in contemporary culture. Martin’s artwork presents us with an honest depiction of Black women, and offers to the viewer a deeper understanding of the experiences of contemporary Black individuals, as well as insight into how the story of Black Americans has been shaped by our country’s complex and oppressive history.
The exhibition opens on Saturday, March 13th and runs until Sunday, May 23rd. Due to the current pandemic, the museum is operating on reduced hours and is open Monday – Friday 9:00 to 4:00 and Saturdays Noon to 4:00. The Art Museum of Southeast Texas is located at 500 Main Street, Beaumont, Texas, 77701. All exhibitions at the museum are free to the public. Martin will give a brief virtual artist talk via Zoom on Friday, March 19th at 7:00 pm. Supporting programming will also include a virtual panel discussion on the topic of the portrayal of Black women in the arts with ROUX Collective. ROUX Collective includes artists Delita Martin, Rabéa Ballin, Ann Johnson, and Lovie Olivia.
For more information about the exhibition or programming, please visit the museum’s website or contact Caitlin Clay, Curator of Exhibitions, at [email protected]