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Celebrating 55 years Black history

Celebrating 55 Years Of Black Creativity

In February, Westbury Arts opened its exhibit “55 Years of Black Creativity” showcasing artwork by members of the Long Island Black Artist Association (LIBAA).

“This exhibit shows a diverse range of artwork by very talented African American artists,” says artist and show organizer Marcia Odle-McNair. “People should come to see this exhibit because it shows that the artists of LIBAA are highly skilled in their techniques; each work is beautiful, intricate and interesting.”

The works featured in the show are by Galvin Bisserup, Jr., Roosevelt; Maxine Townsend Broderick, Jamaica, Queens; James Whitten, Jamaica, Queens; Aaron Scott, Freeport, Clemente Ettrick, Amityville; Marcia Odle-McNair, Westbury; Mary Rano, Freeport; Frenal Mezilas, Lindenhurst; Kenneth Bradford, Roosevelt; David Wilson, Jamaica, Queens; Willie Mack, Wyandanch; and Olita Wingate, Hempstead.

LIBAA was founded in 1968 by four Long Island artists to promote, share information, and seek opportunities to exhibit artwork by African American artists.

“This tradition is carried on today by the current members,” says Odle-McNair. “These members continued to gather and to share ideas, participate in exhibitions, and to provide cultural services to the community.”

Odle-McNair says that viewers have been delighted to see the variety of artwork ranging from portraiture, still life, abstraction, surrealism, and representational art.

The mediums in this exhibit include acrylic, or oil paint, watercolor, pastels, photography, and mixed media.

“I have always been inspired by the utilization of color interactions, nature and traditional, as well as non-traditional shapes in all art,” says Odle-McNair. “I have created artwork that intrigues the viewer to stop and take time to process or notice the blended or contrasting placement of color, the dimensionality of the brushstrokes within a painted section, and to question the two or three dimensions creating in the painting. I often incorporate veils of transparency, or use shaped canvases to further stretch the limits of the viewer’s perception found in each painting.”

Odle-McNair’s art reflects a long interest in working with the interactions of colors, overlapping geometric shapes, aspects of nature and transparency.

“I have been an artist most of my life. my mother was a seamstress, so I spent many hours exploring fabrics of various colors, textures and patterns, particularly African patterns,” says Odle-McNair. “I was inspired by the Impressionists, especially Claude Monet, and his use of colors.”

Odle-McNair began formal art classes at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn as a teenager. It is here that she was introduced to abstraction in modern art and became inspired by the work of Aaron Douglas and his use of transparency.

She continued her formal art training at Hunter College, where she earned both, her Bacherlor’s and Master’s in Fine Arts degrees.

“I was particularly inspired by Hans Hoffman and his use of color; Josef Albers and his explorations with color theory,” says Odle-McNair. “Alma Thomas with her use of pulsating bands of color and Bridget Riley with her optical art paintings, were also inspiring.”

LIBAA supports its members through exhibitions—locally, nationally and internationally. Westbury Arts programs are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the office of the governor and the New York State legislature.

The show runs through March 22. Westbury Arts is located at 255 Schenck Ave. in Westbury.

Visit www.westburyarts.org or call 516-400-2787 for gallery hours and more details. Visit www.liblackartists.com for more information about the art association.

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