“Being a black artist for me is a very, very isolated venture. Every artist has their own struggles to acquire what they deem as their own level of success, but I think the struggle is harder for black artists. You very rarely see work that deals with the same theme as your own. You rarely see other black artists, or black people in general, at shows or openings. There are very few books printed about black artists, and you rarely ever hear about them in any sort of art history context. I graduated with honors from the Rhode Island School of Design, one of the finest art schools in America, where I had literally dozens upon dozens of art history lectures. I did not learn a single piece of information from any of them about either Henry Ossawa Tanner or Jean-Michel Basquiat.” –Keinyo White
“…I’ve always found that while my ‘black’ work may end up with negative connotations on first glance, the underlying theme is always about positivity. Whether it’s a positive belief in my own future, or that of my fellow African-Americans. Sometimes, it’s just the pride of being able to lay claim to the positive aspects of black history and how we as black people need to reaffirm and recapture that sense of unity.
I don’t think the majority of artists working today have the technical capacity for portraiture. A lot of factors come in to play: you have to be a good draftsman; you have to have a good sense of proportion, of light and darks. You have to be capable of establishing a good composition before you begin, and most importantly you have to have an excellent sense of color. And above all you have to bring some aspect of your subject to life in your painting. If you miss that it’s not necessarily a good portrait, it’s just a good drawing.
In the early days, when I was striving to broaden peoples horizons by making art that sought to change the world or the art machine, it didn’t really do anything except make me tired. That was something I never discovered about anger until I was a little older, that being angry all the time leaves you with little energy for anything else. It also made me realize that I didn’t have to bear the torch for black awareness. That I could put it down whenever I wanted. If people are interested in learning about black culture, they have plenty of tools at their disposal: literature, movies, documentaries, the Internet, and art. My art will always be there as an aid in that quest for knowledge.”