Do me a favor. Google the term "Love Art." Look at the images. What do you see?
Here is what I found: There are the first dozen images I found...
Now, Google the term "Black Love Art." View the images. What do you see?
Again, here's what I found;
Black love art = Sex.
(NOTE: Now I will preface what comes next with the fact that art is not definable. What is art to one man may be trash to another. What looks like it was completed by a child, may take a tremendous amount of skill and ALL contributions to our visual community are relevant and in need of viewing.)
I first noticed this when posting pics of my work on a facebook page for Black artists. My work is largely portraits, images of women of color, emotive representations of the black figure, and largely, it was well received. But the reaction wasn't great...
So I changed the dynamic.
I gave the people what I thought they would want....
Here's what I posted...
The reaction was immediate and insane.615 likes and 13 shares ... in one day. Which is a lot for a novice such as myself.
"YAASSSSS" "SEXII" "I need that in my life" "I want a tattoo of that!"
It was crazy... So why?
We know that sex sells, you don't have to have an MBA to understand this. But I can't help but wonder, why is there so strong a connection between sexual imagery and the black art community?
Why do pieces that have taken a greater level of skill and have a greater connection to the emotions of the artist garner so much less attention?
This is how I came to research the difference between "black art" and "black love" images as in contrast to "art" or "love" images.
The differences are stark and immediately apparent. We could take this back to much talked about theories about hyper-sexual imagery that has been synonymous with depictions of black people forever. We could go on forever about black women being viewed as mammies, mothers or whores, and I believe that there is validity to that argument.
However, what has me posting today, is something different and far more relevant to me as an artist, rather than as a black woman.
Is this what people want?
Should I draw more images like this one? Should I succumb to what people want and draw images that I find to be more sexual than sensual? More raunchy than racy?
If I use my meager research to answer this question, in order to make enough money to feed my family, I might say, "Absolutely."
What say you? Do you give the people what they want to earn what you need to earn. Or is art more than a product?