“You Invent Your Own Game”

melvin edwards

The sculptor Melvin Edwards at his studio in Plainfield, N.J., with “Nigba Lailai (The Past),” from 1979. Credit Melvin Edwards/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times.

Older artists profiled in this article are achieving belated critical and financial success after laboring in obscurity for much of their careers. In her title the author makes the artists’ ethnicity explicit, providing good context for the categorization, and it’s enough
said. Many don’t wish their art to be filtered through “the lens of identity.”

lorraine ogrady

“Lorraine O’Grady: Cutting Out CONYT,” was an exhibition of her work using cut-out type from The New York Times. Credit Lorraine O’Grady/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; via Alexander Gray Associates.

Artists mentioned are: McArthur Binion, Howardena Pindell, Melvin Edwards, Lorraine O’Grady, Frank Bowling, Sam Gilliam, Barkley Hendricks, Jack Whitten, Mark Bradford, Charles Gaines, William T. Williams, Barbara Chase-Riboud, and Kerry James Marshall.

frank bowling two blues

Last year Frank Bowling, 85, created “Two Blues,” acrylic and mixed media on collaged and printed canvas. Credit Frank Bowling/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; DACS, London; via Alexander Gray Associates; Hales Gallery.

I particularly savored Melvin Edwards’s pithy remarks:

“You invent your own game — and then you push it forward,” said Mr. Edwards, who taught at Rutgers for 30 years. “It’s about time the art world caught up.”

He is philosophical about all the new attention.

“Some is serious, some is fickle and some is not at all positive — you just have to find your way through it,” he said.

(Hilarie M. Sheets, “Discovered After 70, Black Artists Find Success, Too, Has Its Price,” NYTimes, 3-23-19)

(c) 2019 JMN.

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day, and watch Netflix and Prime Video for entertainment. I like to read and memorize poetry.
This entry was posted in Anthology, Quotations and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to “You Invent Your Own Game”

  1. Eric Wayne says:

    Sounds like they weren’t so much discovered as sought out for political reasons in order to fortify a political agenda and the hegemony of a singular narrative. This doesn’t mean they don’t deserve overdo attention, but rather that the real motive is politics as usual.

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