About This Series
I live in Oregon, USA. I came initially to attend the University of Oregon over a decade ago and stayed to work and raise my family. I remember shortly after arriving I turned on the local news and heard that a black man was killed in a Bar in the city of Portland by a group of white men. A case of being black and in the wrong place at the wrong time. A short time later, I learned that large signs on the California/Oregon border that read, “visit, but do not stay” were especially targeted towards minorities. The Springfield, Oregon semi-clan chamber was in full control of the minds of its members and frequently touted the white race superiority. In Eugene, Oregon, where I attended University, local white Americans warned me not to venture beyond the main liberal cities. Portland, Eugene, and Ashland were considered safer liberal cities for me to visit during the daytime. In 2020/21 The Black Lives Matter movement has shown that Oregon has a long way to go towards semi-equal justice for all. Oregon remains a very white state.
I grew up in Grenada, West Indies (Caribbean), my people see me first as a boy or man, (not a black boy or man); (note that most Grenadians are black), but in America and Europe I experienced that white people first see me as a black man before I’m seen as a man. To be fair, it’s the opposite in the Caribbean. As an adult, I’ve noticed that in Grenada, because of colonialism, my people see white people as white first, then people. In my opinion, this view by both peoples, affects the way we think about the others who are different from us. If you don’t actually know at least half a dozen people of another race, it’s easy to create stereotypes about who you think they are and when people internalize their fears and misunderstanding about the other—this leads to racism.
This series of paintings was inspired by the 2020/21 wave of Black Lives Matter protest in Portland, Oregon and in other states within the United States. When I first came to America, I studied American History, so I’m fully aware of the deep racism throughout its society and the extreme difficulty and futility in thinking it can be easily cut out. As a young man I learned it was easier to simply avoid racial trouble by ignoring the facts. However, at my current age, I felt very angry after George Floyd was killed. The fact that it was recorded for all to see made all the difference. I wanted to let out some steam without participating in violence. I decided to direct my anger elsewhere, towards the thing I had total control over… which is the creation of my art. I had lots of ideas and needed it to flow quickly, so I decided to do digital art, which is very immediate, in comparison to oil paintings. Emotionally, this was a therapeutic process for me. I allowed my mind to direct my creativity…you are viewing the results.
I'm grateful I live in a time where I can express my opinion through my art without fear of death. I appreciate the Black Lives Matter movement for their efforts to awaken the masses about the continued 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.
Anthony Adonis Lewis