I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of proof. Perhaps it’s a part of an early midlife crisis. Proof is different from evidence. Art functions as proof—proof of our questioning, our intelligence, our creative prowess and existential yearning, proof of the hand-eye relationship and our capacity to find joy even in the simple study of light. Privately, in our studios, even the odd “failed” projects function as proof, of both our vulnerability and our courage as makers. Art can be seen pretty much as proof of our existence, the footprint residue we leave behind.
I knew early in life that I wanted to be an artist and Romare Bearden was my proof. He represented a successful black cultural producer who had forged a path and created a legacy to follow to the best of my ability. His tenacity and vision remain something to be in awe of and strive for.
Practically all great artists accept the influence of others. But . . . the artist with vision sees his material, chooses, changes, and by integrating what he has learned with his own experiences, finally molds something distinctly personal. —Romare Bearden