While looking for International Women’s Day artists, I first spotted these gorgeous, powerful paintings, and I thought Yes! This! When I realized they were painted by a gentle giant of a man, and I thought Yes! This! (But not for International Women’s Day…) While he may not the fierce black woman I expected him to be, his heart is certainly in the right place. A portion of the proceeds from each of Okamura’s prints is donated to Girls for Gender Equity (GGE), a Title IX Brooklyn-based youth development organization.
“[T]he further I went down this path of painting women as my subjects, the deeper the stories got and the more feedback I received. The most important thing I realized were the questions of painting people who have been under-represented in the history of art, the history of portraiture. I soon became part of a small movement of people who were looking to correct that. Sometimes it doesn’t always line up as the viewer imagined. That part of my work I didn’t intend to be conceptual, but it has challenged people’s ideas of who can represent who through art. People can quickly sense if artwork is from a place of authenticity or not – my messages are positive and so are my representations and this is a celebration of my community.“– Tim Okamura
The multi-racial Canadian artist’s work is meant to explore the human relationship to identity. Okamura uses a surprising combination of materials to achieve his gorgeous paintings – applying collage, spray paints, and other mixed media to create his subjects. I think his unusual materials combined with the scale of his paintings make them extra impactful and memorable.