Artist Ajuan Mance has recently completed a six-year long project to draw 1001 pictures of black men for a myriad of reasons. Mance’s project focuses on the black men that she saw while living in California and in her past.
Mance wanted to avoid portraying black men as objects, like the advertisement that feature shirtless black men, which she despises.
Instead, she wanted to focus on the black men she saw in her day-to-day life.
However, during the project, Mance questioned her own biases when she realized that she was mostly painting black men who were well dressed with suits and glasses, that reflected a high socio-economic status.
Mance then realized that she was failing to portray black men with less wealth than the ones she was familiar with from college and her childhood.
Mance’s artistic style uses a variety of colors and is reminiscent of Picasso quasi-abstraction.
For her backgrounds, she uses either a single solid color, a collage of old-fashioned imagery, or a solid-color background with quotes from civil rights activists, such as James Baldwin.
Her drawings are not extremely detailed, but they easily convey the features of the individual subjects. Their faces, hair and clothes can easily be recognized in Mance drawings. 1001 Black Men can be found on display at Berkeley Public Library until August 20, 2017.