Yes, our lips are full.
Yes, our noses are wide. Yes, our grandmothers and great grandmothers were maids. Yes, our grandfathers, great grandfathers were sharecroppers. Some were even numbers runners. If they were fortunate they were Pullman porters.
Yes, many of us have dined on and continue to dine on fried chicken and watermelon.
And no, there’s not a thing for which to be ashamed.
That’s the message behind a collection of art called “Hysterio Types” – the creation of artist Meyer Warren. “Hysterio Types” was born following the release of Jay-Z’s “Story of OJ” video, which used exaggerated cartoon depictions of Black people to tell a story of elevating out of present circumstances.
“The ‘Sambo’ character was used in a derogatory way to depict Black people. What I do (with ‘Hysterio Types’), it’s taking what was intended to make fun of us and flip it into a positive,” said Warren. “So I may put a character eating watermelon in my painting and I want people to think there’s nothing wrong with eating watermelon. Our people would eat watermelon because in the hot sun it provided needed nutrients and electrolytes.”
An abstract artist, Warren’s works are filled with hidden “gems.”
“In many of my pieces you’ll see ‘XYZ’ and that has meaning,” explained the St. Paul native, Warren. “X is the unknown, Y is the question and Z is the answer. It’s the dark, the spark and the clarity. I want people to look at my art and research for understanding.”
“Hysterio Types” will soon be wearable art, as Warren has teamed with Black Excellence Clothing founder Houston White to co-produce a line of shirts, hoodies, jackets and more. The line was set to make its debut April 14 but the 20 inches of snow in the area forced a postponement to May 19 – a date that was chosen with intention.
“That’s Malcolm X’s birthday,” revealed Warren.
The launch event takes place from 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. at H. White Men’s Room, 1500 44th Ave. N., Minneapolis.