The Jackie Ormes Project
The stunning images of pioneering artist Jackie Ormes are the inspiration for my current body of work. Ormes (1911 – 1985), was the first African-American woman cartoonist and part of the Chicago Renaissance. She was friends with Duke Ellington, had her own line of African American dolls, and ran a very successful business. She was drop-dead glamour and in control of her own life, certainly not the archetype of the African American woman in America at that time.
Her graceful and elegant images told stories of black Americans in the thirties, forties, and fifties with humor and biting social satire. Her cartoons was published in “black” newspaper (Chicago Defender and Pittsburgh Courier) and reached mass audiences.
I am examining more subtle racial and gender serotypes in our so-called “post-racial society” by refocusing attention on this little-known but seminal artist. As I re-image the original cartoons, sometimes morphing my own likeness with Ormes’ original groundbreaking female African-American archetype, I am creating an ‘avatar’ for my struggle for my own identity in this culture as an artist and a woman.
My work is painted in a flat, high key color, reminiscent of Pop and Post Pop Masters such as Lichtenstein, Katz and Hume. My hope is that the viewer will pause and question their beliefs about race, gender and high and low art, while losing oneself in the sensation of line, color and paint.