By Doriana Diaz
My mama was an art guru. She used to stroll me through all the museums when I was a baby. When I got to be a bit older, she would walk me through; holding my hand. When she really liked something, she’d lift me up close, and point to it. She’d show me where the lines intersected, or parted in the painting. As I got even older, the explanations became a lot more dense; like when and why the painting was made, what time period the artist was born or what each element in the work symbolized. For my mama it was always spiritual. Walking through a museum was like kneeling under the cross or bearing her confessions. For her, it was something nothing less than holy.
She set a fire inside me and I became enamored with the visual narratives, fairy tales, and sometimes even horror each piece would convey. I knew that art had a way of curing anything injured inside you. Whispering words of sanctuary into your ears. Art allows you to not only understand yourself further, but to explore the unknown, grasp a new reality, or feeling. Most times the feelings one gets from art are the exact feelings they almost never allow themselves experience, but the art is undeniable.
Throughout my childhood, I was not only exposed to art, but I began to implement it as a ritual; an element of ease. I worked with collage, poetry, body painting, graffiti; anything I could get my hands on. I explored any channel that offered me the chance to expand my expressions of rage, my trauma, my joy, my confusion, my despair. The fire in me was raging, and continues to burn to this day. In those childhood years, I did not know it, but I was nurturing my own spiritual partnership between that which is ritual and that which is artistic practice. Art became my safe haven to recenter, to release, and rebuild after breaking, time and time again. It was simply spiritual.
My own exploration of the limitlessness of Black art; I will always be hunting for. We breathe our art into the world, everyday we exist, and that is given to us only by spirit. Through our cultivation of artistic growth, we not only redeem ourselves, but we offer ourselves to the ancestors, we walk in our purpose, and we leave the world better than how we found it. Art is an ongoing archive of our experiences, as black people, something we must never take lightly.