We are a people. A people do not throw their geniuses away. And if they are thrown away, it is our duty as artists and as witnesses for the future to collect them again for the sake of our children, and, if necessary, bone by bone.
Alice Walker, In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens:Womanist Prose (New York: Harcourt, Inc, 1983), 92
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Artist: Melinda Byers

Born and raised in California, USA, Melinda Byers is one of America’s foremost and popular artists of nostalgic and ethnic art.She discovered her love for art at a young age, and vividly remembers sponge painting as a four year old, at primary school. Whilst at a grammar school, Melinda Byers was awarded many art certificates and one art teacher, in particular, introduced her to watercolours, which is the medium she has favoured throughout her career. After school she worked at a dental practice, whilst painting in her spare time. However, she soon took up painting full-time and began participating in many exhibitions at leading galleries in America.Melinda Byers is a self-taught artist who has not undergone any formal training. Before starting a painting, she spends on average 150-200 hours preparing the scene she has chosen to paint. This includes activities such as finding models and making their clothes, and taking photographs.She has won many awards over the years, including several first place prizes and three ‘Best Of Show’ awards. She has also donated many of her original paintings to charities to raise money for hospitals around her home town.

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Images from the pictorial Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present

As a student in the 1970s, Deborah Willis came to the realization that images of black beauty, female and male, simply did not exist in the larger culture. Determined to redress this imbalance, Willis examined everything from vintage ladies’ journals to black newspapers, and started what would become a lifelong quest. With more than two hundred arresting images, many previously unpublished, Posing Beauty recovers a world many never knew existed. Historical subjects such as Billie Holiday and Josephine Baker illuminate the past; Angela Davis and Muhammad Ali take us to the civil rights era; Denzel Washington, Lil’ Kim, and Michelle Obama celebrate the present. Featuring the works of more than one hundred photographers, including Carl van Vechten, Eve Arnold, Lee Friedlander, and Carrie Mae Weems, Willis’s book not only celebrates the lives of the famous but also captures the barber shop, the bodybuilding contest, and prom night. Posing Beauty challenges our most fundamental assumptions about what it means to be “beautiful.” 

242 duotone photographs; 40 pages of five-color photographs.

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