Wanda Paulette Harris wanted to gather four female artists along with herself. Women who possessed varied skill sets, all painters, to join her in creating works about women.
The fruits of their labor are on display at Miami's Liberty Square Community Center in the UN-SILENCED Art Exhibit “Embracing the Black Woman’s Voice,” opens Friday, Sept. 16, at the center at 6304 NW 14th Ave.
"There was a criteria for the artwork," Harris explains, which began after she says she started doing research. "I came to a place where I understood that when it comes to female artists, African-American female artists, and just female artists in general, we generally fall last in line when it comes to representation."
She found the opportunity in curating the exhibition in the second in a series of UN-SILENCED exhibits at the community center spearheaded by artist and curator Addonis Parker/Art Forever whose mission is to embrace and support art and artists in Liberty City. Harris' painting "Truth Be Told" was one of the works featured in the inaugural Juneteenth art exhibition at the center. In "Embracing the Black Woman's Voice, as curator, Harris sought to create a situation where she could introduce African-American artists, who may not be known, especially females, to the community.
There was another opportunity at hand with the exhibit and that is to get people who may not be aware of the beautification which has been happening in Liberty City to see the center and to visit the area, she says.
"We do want people in the neighborhood to come, but it's another way to bring people who may not be aware of what we are doing," Harris says.
The curator dug deep into the artists she wanted in her exhibit. "I got a chance to talk to them and speak with them about their careers, where they are, their work," she says.
Each artist, offering various styles and techniques, created striking paintings that detail the history, accomplishments, and cultural and emotional states of Black women everywhere.
Featured artists include Alfrena Moosa, Aptiva Ferguson, Johanne Hampstead Lam, Winsome Bolt along with Harris.
"We all have different techniques and different styles, so it is a good mix. It's all about letting voices speak through the artwork."
Her curator questions for the exhibition were: "How do we want to portray the females in our communities, what do we want to express to the community about who we are as an artist and this whole concept of being a painter of women? So, I had to bring all of that together."
The works are original to the exhibition. She gave the artists only one criterion: "It had to be about females by females."
The exhibition, which runs through Oct. 14, isn't a microcosm but encompasses an even bigger movement, Harris says, a global movement that brings greater recognition.
Harris says curating the exhibition has made her think even bigger. "How can I make an impact, do something about this problem (of the under representation of Black female artists). Create opportunities and venues for female artists and especially African American artists?"
She would like the theme of "Embracing the Black Woman's Voice" to be an ongoing series, maybe even reaching to other parts of the state and maybe even beyond Florida.
"That is something that I'm embracing. Who knows where it can lead?"
About the Artists:
Alfrena Moosa's are started early in elementary school and then graduating from Miami International School of Art and Design. Here in South Florida she has taught for 8+ years. Alfrena has always used her gift to make a difference in people’s houses, businesses and their communities with multiple artwork-like portraits, murals, sculptures etc. Alfrena has been a Therapeutic Art Life Coach for the past five years and has shared art in amazing locations such as the Salvation Army, Lotus House, Camillus House, multiple rehab centers, local churches and so much more. One of her coolest accomplishments was illustrating children’s books written by others as well as her own. www.alfrenamoosa.org
Aptiva Ferguson was in the seventh grade when she first discovered her natural artistic talent. "My potential to be an artist was later confirmed when in the eleventh grade, my teacher placed me in the advanced art program after I showed her my sketch book. That opportunity heightened my exposure to artistic skills and discipline and deepened my resolve to develop my talent. As a Fine Art major at Florida A&M University, I gained an appreciation for brush strokes, watercolors and photography, all of which influence the paintings I create now. My preferred subject is painting portraits in watercolor, especially of the Black woman as a creator and caretaker. My observations of everyday life inspire the subjects I create and paint. A stunning smile here, a braided hairstyle there, a glance at the joy or sadness on the face of a childâ€”each scene is different and looked at through multiple lenses. With my art, I seek to emphasize the connection between Mother Nature and divine feminine to the tangible reality of daily life. As I grow as an artist, my quest is to maintain the balance between my creative spirit and my acquisition of artistic skills." Email:FergusonAptiva@gmail.com / SM: @_qteeeart
Joanne Hempstead Lam's pieces are usually based on women of color. The subject’s powerful emotions and warmth and vibrancy of their skin is usually Joanne’s signature. The artist’s aim is to give the audience a visceral experience of power and beauty. Each subject reflecting a distinct expression of how they approach life/their audience. The authentic nature of people of color is what drives Ms. Lam’s work. Email: email@example.com / SM:@xanartgallery
Winsome Bolt is the daughter of Jamaica and a citizen of the world. "My creative process begins with an interior space that needs to be reimagined. I analyze structures, textures, colors, and trending themes to bring forth a new space that suits the needs of each project. Everything is new with trials and tribulations which contribute to the inspiration and thus affect the entire process. At my core, I am meant to develop what I see in my dreams and bring it forth to life. This is done through interior design, painting, exhibitions, and art classes. My greatest joy in life is seeing the happiness that art as an experience brings to others. It is the greatest change agent that I know." www.winsomedesigns.com
Wanda Paulette Harris is self-taught and God-taught as an artist. "I have been painting and drawing since early childhood and my study of art is never ending. Oil is my preferred medium. My artwork spans the styles of expressionism, the abstract, and my version of cubism, which I have termed “whimsical abstract.” I also love portraiture and creating murals. As a visual artist I am greatly influenced by architectural structures, music, and musical instruments. I am deeply connected to my African roots through its rich history and its culture of sculpture, artifacts, and design motifs. I often incorporate these elements into my artwork. I am also a muralist, preferring private installations. My current work, as always, is consistent with my love for vibrant color, organic elements, and compositions that require emotion- stirring thought. I’ve never been one to create art solely for the purpose beautifying a space. My work has a message that inspires love, joy, hope, and peace. My clients and those who admire my artwork find a personal connection to the compositions. I am always on the quest for perfection as an artist." www.wandapaulettefineart.com
The UN-SILENCED Art Exhibit “Embracing the Black Woman’s Voice,” opens Friday, Sept. 16 and runs through Friday, Oct. 14 at Miami's Liberty Square Community Center 6304 NW 14th Ave. Admission is free.