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  • Harmonia Rosales

Why I Paint What I Paint

The warrior God of metal work, Ogun, originates from the Yoruba religion in Africa.

Ogun can build or destroy. A conundrum he often faces. With such raw energy behind a cause, both destruction and building go hand-in-hand to create a society/change we need and have a right to.

I see life as a painting, rich and complex in its colorful layers. We are our own artists. However, the foundation for which we create our life is vastly flawed. If the paintings foundation is not properly sealed, the painting deteriorates, becomes weak, and will consistently have to be patch-worked. In this instance our foundation is America:


"The United States is a contradiction. Its founding principles embrace the ideals of freedom and equality, but it is a nation built on the systematic exclusion and suppression of communities of color. From the start, so many of this country’s laws and public policies, which should serve as the scaffolding that guides progress, were instead designed explicitly to prevent people of color from fully participating. Moreover, these legal constructs are not some relic of antebellum or Jim Crow past but rather remain part of the fabric of American policymaking."-Danyelle Solomon,Connor Maxwell, and Abril Castro


As we reflect on Juneteenth we see that we are still not truly liberated. The anger we have expressed these past few weeks is completely justified. I am all for it because we have never been heard as much as we are currently. But what happens when the dust settles? Are we prepared to look in the mirror? To truly heal ourselves before we rebuild our future?

When I committed my career to artivism, I vowed to always include my culture and identity in my work, specifically the part of me that is the least represented in society. I utilize social ecology to highlight uncomfortable questions we should all be asking ourselves in order to see the bigger picture.

More than ever we need to see ourselves in all our rich colorful history. To visually see "us" put on a high pedestal and painted in the best of light can empower the youngest of minds and hearts. I choose to continue to amplify teachings of black history beyond slavery and black history month through my paintings.

My stories and reimagining's are about fighting structural racism through empowerment. Empowering by reclaiming our history and identity which has been systematically erased to weaken and separate us. Yet, how can we successfully empower each other when we are stifled by dissociation within our own community?


“First, let’s address the disunity in the black community. Though black people from around the world have completely different experiences and cultures, we are still black. Oftentimes, black people with different nationalities discriminate against other black people. Even within the same country, there are divisions within the black community based on ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, and so much more…It is sad to say, but there is a lot of work to do within our sub-communities to overcome this oppression of the entire black community.” --Kayla Howard


So, when I create art, I do not create from current situations that seem to be an endless cycle, vigorously patch-working a foundation that is forever flawed. The infection is not coming from the surface but our roots as a whole society. As long as we allow our roots to be poisoned by Eurocentrism, we cannot unite to heal and uplift each other in blossoming to our fullest potential.

So as we celebrate Juneteenth and continue to fight for black lives matter, let us remember to heal and lead with love.


*Each week I will try my best to post a blog about one of my art pieces and provide a thorough commentary in preparation for my art book.

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