Ajuan Maria Mance

Colored/Men #5
acrylic on canvas
11 x 14 in.

African Americans’ legendary affection for bold and outrageous color is a powerful challenge to those aesthetic traditions that see Blackness and beauty as opposites. I embrace our tradition of bright, audacious, and unexpected colors as a way to move beyond the limitations of what we think we know about the Black subject, and into a realm of endless possibility and pleasure.

My paintings are equal parts memory and ritual, with every shape conjuring images – faces, expressions, and gestures – stored up over a lifetime of looking at Black people. My work is not portraiture in the traditional sense; it is a record of my years of seeing Blackness – with its humor and sincerity, its vulnerability and defiance; it is a portrayal, if not of an individual, then certainly of a community.

© Ajuan Maria Mance