In the month leading up to MLK Day, our blog will be exploring diverse expressions of art created by people of color. The blog will highlight artists, collaborators, performers, poets, filmmakers, and everything in between. We will be exploring creative outlets that express the various ways racial injustice exists today.

In addition to reading, you can join our MLK Campaign and help us serve in solidarity by hosting and volunteering. Together we can #ActNowForRacialJustice.

Meet Kehinde Wiley

Kehinde Wiley 2

Kehinde Wiley is one of the most exciting visual artists working today. His paintings simultaneously startle the eye with their intricate, color-saturated detail, and stir the heart with the vivid emotional responses they provoke.

Wiley almost exclusively paints portraits – primarily of black and brown young men from urban backgrounds. He paints them dressed in their every day clothing, but posed and styled in a way that evokes classical European paintings of royalty and noblemen. As his website describes, “Wiley’s larger than life figures disturb and interrupt tropes of portrait painting, often blurring the boundaries between traditional and contemporary modes of representation and the critical portrayal of masculinity and physicality as it pertains to the view of black and brown young men.”

Wiley’s original portraits were based on photographs taken of men he encountered in Harlem. But over the years, he has expanded outward, working with models from Mumbai, Senegal, Haiti, and – as the photo above demonstrates – Israel, among other places. Find out more at his website.