S.A.V.W.A.Y.
Self Awareness Vehicle Who Are You

​What is an artist?  An artist is someone who creates truth and beauty through his or her imagination.  Some artists paint pictures.  Some artists carve wood or stone.  Others dance, sing, or act.  Artists also write poems, plays, stories, and novels.

All artists have one thing in common; they are dreamers.  They dare to imagine the best that human life has to offer, and they create new realities from their dreams.  Artists have recorded and sometimes even changed history.

Although artists are dreamers, they are also workers.  They have to be.  Dreams do no pay the rent or put food on the table, only hard work and discipline will.  However, even the hardest working artists often have to struggle for years before their work is recognized and accepted.

​Success in art has been even more difficult for artists who are Black.  Racial prejudice has been a cruel fact of life in the official art world.  So has discrimination against women.  Yet, obstacles did not stop the people whose stories you will read about in this category.

Black people are among the greatest painters, poets, dancers, singers, and actors in history.  Nevertheless, many great black artists have gone unknown.  Although none of the artists in this category are still alive, all of them live on through their recorded works and influence upon the world of art.

Lasting fame is only one of the reasons for which artists create.  Another reason is the common bond that exists between artists.  Artists help each other.  They see themselves as a special group that cuts across boundries of rece, nationality--even across time.  You will see many examples of this in the following life stories that you will read.

​But, sole pleasure and self-expression are the greatest reasons of all for producing a work of art.  A painter feels the flow of energy through the brush and guides it onto the canvas.  A dancer loses his or herself in a dance.  A singer gets caught up in a song.  If you have ever experienced the joy of creating something, then you, too, are an artist.


Excerpt from A Gift of Heritage Historic Blacks in the Arts.