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African identity visual mindmap & artist research

In order to create a cover that matches with the stories of African women I started gathering visual imagery depicting and representing African culture.

Further, I researched specific artists to use as references for my work. Stanwyck E. Cromwell was an artist who stood out to me as he was born in Guyana and moved to America when he turned 20, a few years after completing his secondary education. I found him particularly interesting because although having lived in America for most of his life, his style and work is based on his country of origin. Similarly to the women in Girl, Woman, Other, Stanwyck has moved to a completely different country and culture and went through the process of trying to hold on to his original identity while also adapting to fit into society without feeling like an outcast. Based on his cultural identity, he creates paintings, drawings, and collages using a bright colourful palette; additionally symbolising the mixtures of cultures in American society. Rather than only working on one piece of art he varies between many using different mediums, allowing drying time for some of them while carrying on with others.

Initially Stanwyck struggled as an artist in America due to only creating art involving Guyana. As a way of appealing to a wider audience; he still used his childhood memories from back home but was inspired by America’s multicultural identity and therefore combined the two. This allowed Stanwyck to carry on involving his Guyanese culture while producing work that is more influential and visually striking.

Many of his paintings involve portraiture, though he creates them in his own style using abstract expressionism. Seeing himself as a contemporary visual artist, he refers to his process as “sometimes rendered in graphite and coloured pencils, sometimes collaged on with various papers, or found objects, my work celebrates the legacy of my Guyanese heritage. Therefore, for this reason, colour is central in my work. As an artist, I’m constantly exploring new artistic horizons with the intent of pursuing new visions.” Often facial features including wide noses and thick lips are highlighted in his paintings to which he said: “I use these features not as cultural stereotypes, but to emphasise the natural beauty of African features. I am drawn to these features, and continue to use them in my work, because I find them sculpturally strong, ruggedly handsome, and spiritually connected to my work.”


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