Inspired by the diversity of the African diaspora, artist Justice Dwight creates pieces that capture the vibrancy of black culture. With each painting, his subjects come alive and reflect the beauty of melanin. His pride in “his people,” as he explains, is the driving force behind his subjectivity to paint black portraits. With the stroke of his brush and the variety of color pallets, Justice Dwight emerges as a prominent young, black artist of the modern era.
A Richmond, Virginia native, Dwight recollects his early childhood interest in art. “My father was actually a painter when I was a kid,” he explains, “so I really picked up from watching him.” With his father as his only source of training and mentorship, Dwight inherited his innate artistic sense and his talent for bringing his subjects to life on canvas. Like his father, Dwight chooses to paint black subjects due to his pride and admiration for black culture. With his paint brush, he strives to capture the different complexions, hair textures, and personalities on his canvas. A doll collector, Dwight also draws inspiration from his mother. “I’ve seen her style so many dolls and she would always pay close attention to details,” he says. He, too, pays close attention to details when working on a painting with a lot of color. Despite taking art classes in high school, Dwight attributes his unique style to his parents. “In high school, I never appreciated being told what to create because I felt like when I was being told what to do, my creations were meant to please everyone but myself.”
Art holds so much power and can be a catalyst for conversation. When art pushes boundaries, it demands attention. Dwight makes it a point to start conversation through his paintings. “I’ve definitely pushed boundaries when it comes to sexuality. I’ve done some pieces that have to do with sex from so many spectrums and the response is not always positive.” Despite the negative reactions, Dwight’s goal is to capture the many shades of black culture, thus, black sexuality cannot be left out of the conversation. He aims to represent the diverse personas under the black experience. By forcing his audience to be uncomfortable, he not only completes his mission for accurately portraying the many faces of black people, but he also provokes intellectual dialogue. “People don’t always react positively, but they are still talking about it and I think that’s a good thing.”
Although pursuing a creatively driven career seems stress-free, life as an artist does not come without challenges. Behind each brush stroke is a stroke of intention. The biggest obstacle he faces is making sure that, in every painting, he leaves a piece of himself. Drawing inspiration from different areas, “artist block” is inevitable. Coming up with ideas for a new piece is challenging within itself because, as an artist, the goal is to be different and do something that hasn’t already been done. As a working artist, Dwight also faces the challenge of being an entrepreneur. With so many factors to consider, painting, ironically his stress reliever, can get stressful. Nonetheless, Dwight always reminds himself why he started in the first place and makes sure that, whatever he creates, he creates for his own pleasure. “Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do what you want to do. Go for it with every ounce of your heart and soul and I promise you’ll be rewarded.”
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