My first face-to-face encounter with Romare Bearden's work was in 2003 at the High Museum in Atlanta. What I saw was more than a visual anthology of the African-American experience of his time. Instead, what hung before me was a wondrous articulation of geometry, space and structure. His endlessly inventive arrangements of objects in space and the interaction of each part with the whole set the highest possible standard of skill and imagination.
In addition, I was deeply moved by his re-formulation of Black people through the use of collage. Using the disruption of the human form as a vehicle, he placed the idea of Blackness into a transcendent place, above and beyond any particular historic circumstance or geography. There is a warmth and compassion in his renderings of "us," composed from a shared diasporic medley of bits and pieces. Romare is definitely carved in the pantheon of my heroes and continues to be a great influence on my work.