Header Image: "Nate and Bam ... when the city was sunny (John 16:33)", 2020. Acrylic, pastel, glitter and digital collage on canvas.
Artist Amani Lewis (who uses the pronouns they/them) creates eye-catching portraits of Black Americans. How do they manage to create their intricate creations? To begin their work, Lewis starts by talking to the people in their community. Only after they feel a bond with the community would they begin their creation. This connection is what gives Lewis’s works an intimacy rarely afforded to outsiders.
Lewis’s works are stunning and eye-catching, with bold, neon lines creating outlines of Black people. A closer look, however, reveals a deeper meaning than can be first gleamed. Lewis’s portraits aren’t just paintings. By technicality, they are more akin to collages, a mixed media effort. Lewis paints not onto a blank canvas, but onto photographs. Beneath the chaotic lines lie the heart and soul of the work, the people of Baltimore themselves.
It’s the way Lewis wants you to think about Baltimore, especially its Black community. There are many racial stereotypes applied to them, and many rarely look beyond these stereotypes. Lewis aims to create an awareness of the hidden and unseen through their works, highlighting that maybe we’ve been manipulated to see things a certain way.