Anthony Adonis Lewis - Artist Statement
I am originally from the Caribbean. I was born in Trinidad and Tobago, and grew up in Grenada. My parents (both deceased) were born in Grenada. My family immigrated to the United States when I was a teenager. I consider my nationality a mix between, Grenada, Trinidad, and the United States. I have four children, and one grandchild. My oldest is a biologist at Berkeley with her own science lab; my second graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in math. My last two children are in high school. I am very proud to have served in the United States Air Force for over a decade, earning the Meritorious Service Medal and Commendation Medal with distinguished service to my chosen country. I’m a graduate of the University of Oregon. I’ve worked in the computer industry for many years. I have chosen to live in the United States for the many economic and educational opportunities available to myself and my family. (Yes – despite America’s history of racism, the U.S. has opportunities hard to find elsewhere in the world).
This series of paintings was inspired by the 2020 wave of Black Lives Matter protest in the United States. I felt very angry after the George Floyd killing and needed to direct my anger somewhere. I’m not the kind of person to do street protest, so I did the only thing I had control over…which is the creation of my art. I needed the ideas in my head to flow quickly, so I decided to do digital art, which is very immediate, in comparison to oil paintings, which can take months and years for just one piece, for me. While creating this series of digital paintings, I allowed my internal mind to direct my creativity…you are viewing the results.
A little background on my thinking for this collection…. I've noticed that when I lived in Grenada, (most Grenadians are black), my people see me first as a man, (not a black man); but in America and Europe I'm seen first as a black man before I’m seen as a man. In Grenada, because of colonialism, my people view white people as white first, then people. I’ve thought lots about this fact and came to my own conclusion about how this affects the way we think about people who are different from us. In my opinion, when people internalize their fears and misunderstanding about the other—this leads to institutional racism and many other conditions, which I believe is not always good. I know people who overcompensate their reaction to someone’s color to show they are not racist. Some people do the opposite—their racism is heightened and on full display to the world.
I'm grateful to the Black Lives Matter movement for their efforts to awaken the masses about the injustice black people face in our daily lives. I believe that life is short, so love who you love and do good work. Try your best NOT to destroy the environment or deliberately hurt others.
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”