My wife and I have a huge concentration of books that are on African history, African-American history, American history, African culture, all of those different aspects of the history Black people from around the the world. And if you look through the titles of the books, you’ll see that the range of subjects that they cover relative to Black history, culture, and also the kinds of stories that Black people tell is really broad. So, part of the reason some of those titles are there is to introduce some of those authors and some of those books to the art viewing public. The painting is as much an invitation to also come to know as it is a demonstration of the kind of conflicts in knowledge that somebody who has already arrived at this knowledge might experience.
Our conceptions of what constitutes the best that can be done in artwork still revolves around those paintings that are the foundation the art history, and those paintings all have a European origin so that our concept of what’s beautiful and what’s important operates within that realm as well. For me as an African American or Black person going to the museum and looking at those works, even though I like a lot of things I might be looking at, there really is a limit to your ability to appreciate things that don’t include you as a fundamental part of their value system. For me, the only way to really come to terms with that is to introduce images that contain Black figures – and not Black figures that are marginal in their position to the narrative – but central to the narrative.