V

Narratives of African American Art and Identity

Mary Lovelace O'Neal

Racism Is Like Rain, Either It Is Raining or It Is Gathering Somewhere, 1993

Lithograph

13.25" x 22"


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Racism Is Like Rain, Either It Is Raining or It Is Gathering Somewhere

Mary Lovelace O'Neal utilizes high abstraction to give voice to her ephemeral artistic expressions of "intangible elements of the human spirit." Influenced by Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism, she has created highly abstracted compositions in which figurative elements are beyond or almost beyond recognition. Dreamlike shapes exist on the picture plane of her creations and almost come to life with vibrant coloration and wet-looking surface qualities. In her 1993 lithograph Racism is Like Rain, Either It's Raining or It's Gathering Somewhere, O'Neal departs from her usual subjects of the ethereal to address the omnipresent cloud of racism. O'Neal's piece was included in the California Afro-American Museum's 1992 exhibition "No Justice, No Peace? Resolutions," which was a direct response to the Rodney King verdict of 1992 and the ensuing riots and racial tensions that stratified the city during that period.

O'Neal addresses aesthetic and political concerns of the dark medium, exploring aesthetic qualities of black while also addressing the literal symbology of blackness. Colorful abstracted forms work against themselves and the imposing gray and black masses to create a dynamic effect of push and pull, call and response. O'Neal's unique style gleans both aesthetic and political concerns into a provocative composition.   K. A. K.

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