The first thing I noticed as I walked through Dave McClinton’s exhibit was the seemingly endless, minute details intertwined within each piece. It felt as if I saw pictures within pictures, each telling countless stories. Each with themes I felt on a deeply personal level.
Each image elicited a visceral reaction from me. I felt sadness, anger, familiarity and yes, even pride. As I studied each piece intently, I completely understood why the title “Despite It All” was chosen. The artist portrayed the reality of being Black in America in the most real and gut-wrenching way possible. He captured what it is to be bought and sold, yet still hold your head up high. For this artist understands that even today, we are still being bought and sold; yet many of us continue to wear our self-respect like the badge of honor that it is. Even with images of slavery and servitude, he captured the regal beauty of Black women and the strength and resilience of Black men.
I had the good fortune to speak with the artist on Opening Night. His process, he explained, involves overlaying digital pictures of several people from different ethnic backgrounds. This is genius, considering each of his pieces represents, without a doubt, individuals of African ancestry. His process is intriguing to someone like me, who is just a lover of art. But ultimately, his message and intent, more than his method, resonated with me.