The Roots of BAMRUARY
To honor Black History month, in January 2018 I started the tradition of #BAMRUARY, which stands for Black Awareness Month- February. For this event, Prime Vice Studios encourages artists to show off their talents by creating art that represents Black awareness and posting it online.
The first year, I started this event with doing Afro-Latino icons. This year I did three pieces on the undisputed pioneers of Hip Hop. They are portraits of DJ Kool Herc, Africa Bambaataa & Grand Master Flash. Being a Bronx native myself with a deep passion and appreciation for Hip Hop I wanted to pay tribute to the originators.
Due to time constraints I was not able to run the whole gamut of 28 (29 this leap year) art pieces this year but I am glad to have noticed that other artists did go hard on BAMRUARY pieces this year.
Namely Alex Solomon & Kalila J @Leedleloodledoodles
Alex Solomon is a wonderful illustrator whose work touches on various themes and aesthetics. This year he did beautiful black and white portraits of historical heroes with captions featuring biographies on each of them. See more of Alex’s work and follow him on social media @_alextheartist.
Kalila J is a Philly based artist currently a first year BFA student at Temple University’s Tyler school of Art and Architecture. She is inspired by her hometown’s mural arts program, exploring how art can be used as a form of storytelling and expression.
Her BAMRUARY art this year was of Harlem Renaissance figures. The art style was inspired by Jacob Lawrence’s “Migration Series.” Follow her on social media @Leedleloodledoodles .
In Memory of Dr. Wilfred D Samuels
This year I lost my beloved mentor, professor & unofficial godfather, Dr. Wilfred D Samuels. He was a deeply influential person in my life and in many ways the inspiration for #BAMRUARY itself. Apart from being an amazing and highly respected professor. He was the coordinator of the Black History Month events at the University of Utah for many years. These events which included speakers, special guests, art exhibits and more were under the label of Black Awareness Month during his tenure. Participating in and attending these events was transformative to me. I even had the honor of creating the poster art for one of the events as a student.
He was my first patron as an artist and a dedicated collector for many years. My esteem for him is unmatched and what he did for me I can never pay back. I can only pay it forward by being and doing my best. He inspired me to be who I am today; to be proud of my Black roots and to live life to the fullest. I am truly grateful to have had him in my life.
To pay respects to his transition and to also bless #BAMRUARY2020 I made the following portrait in his honor.
On the right side are featured two of his published books: Making Crooked Paths Straight and Encyclopedia of African-American Literature. Making Crooked Paths Straight was his last published book. It features his research on Olaudah Equiano (Gustavus Vassa). Encyclopedia of African-American Literature was a book that I assisted him with and had the privilege of contributing several articles myself (bios on Claude Brown, Aaron McGruder & Zane). It was my first publication credit!
Participating in that process of seeing such a massive piece of work come to fruition was incredible. To be an active part of creating something that people can read and use as a reference is a feeling I struggle to describe.
I am proud that #BAMRUARY still lives on after only two years. I hope that it will continue to do so and inspire more and more people to join in on the action. I may not get to do 28 fresh art pieces every year, but I will always keep doing some to honor the tradition of Black Awareness Month. Rest In Power Dr. Samuels we love you and thank you for all of the beautiful things you’ve done in your life that has had a positive impact on so many people.
Loso F Perez, MFA
Dr. Samuels speaks at the U