African-American Artists 4


I've always been an artist. I never knew of a time when I was not.

I've always made use of my hands, and I've always made use of what I see, trying to emulate it and copy it. I don't know any other way of living than the way I live. Even when I was in the military, I saw the military through the eyes of the artist.

How can you exist when you don't know about your cultural background? You don't know the importance that it is placed in American history and culture. You don't know where your ancestry comes from; you don't realize that in Africa every aspect of life was about art—making of art, music, cultural expressions, dance, drums.

My paintings are paintings about a culture that's very private, very much with nature and the rhythm of things. The subjects are agrarians, very proud people who have an African cultural legacy.  

I embrace and celebrate all that I am. I embrace being African American. I embrace being gay. I embrace being an artist. I embrace being an activist, supporting the community, giving donations and making a stance with my art and what I do. Helping to define culture with my art, educating with my art. I think that's the role, perhaps, of all artists in the community.

I never came out. I never remember not being (gay). Straight people ask me all the time "when did you come out?" My answer to them is "when did you come out?"

"How do you know you're gay?" they ask. "How do you know you're straight?" I say.

 Naple News, 2009

So I paint what I know, nothing else. I’m not trying to imagine anything. I’m not trying to impress anyone. I’m not trying to really educate anyone about art. I’m just painting what I know, because my experience as a person of color, having been brought up in the era of segregation separation, I never saw people that looked like me on many walls. And when I did see any resemblance of me, it was usually distasteful, disrespectful, and a complete un-American attitude towards the people that have given 300 years of their lives without any reward of freedom. So I paint with a sense of dignity and respect for the people that nurtured me and inured me with enough knowledge to protect myself, navigating this world as an African-American person.   Article

Sharing the Chores, 1996

Sweet Grass Carriers, 1999

Corene, 1995

Sweetgrass Hats

Distant Thoughts

Sea Swing, 2001

Daughters of the South

Jonathan Green

Gullah Geechee storyteller

Gullah Geechee Ring Shout from Georgia

Gullah:   a member of a black people living on the coast of South Carolina and nearby islands.
The Gullah are African Americans who live in the Lowcountry region of the U.S. states of Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina, in both the coastal plain and the Sea Islands. They developed a creole language, also called Gullah, and a culture with some African influence. Wikipedia

Day 28: Jonathan Green

"I do furniture, I do tables and benches," said Ramsey. "I love doing tables and benches because they are so immediate where you get to fix it, build it, deliver it, and sit on it, or use it as a table just like that. No strings attached basically."

He built frames and rolling trellises he welded to be used by VCU, which is his alma mater.

They’re being used to help safely decontaminate 12,000 N95 masks at VCU Health. The decontamination process uses high-intensity ultraviolet light, a method developed by VCU Health and VCU Ventures. It allows the hospital to replenish its own supply, and keep its employees safe.

When Ramsey received the call to build the structures, he knew immediately that he wanted to help.

"It was like one of the things I'm most proud of," said Ramsey.  link to story and video

Martha Stewart: Black Artists Creating Home Goods:

For Keith M. RAMSEY, who also goes by RAMSEY, art is in his blood. After decades of collecting antiques and old metals, he discovered steam punk in 2012—and the rest was history. "I created what I called 'found punk,' which has become my signature style—art created for everyday living that invites people to 'rethink' how art is used," he says of his metalwork and paintings. "My commitment is to initiating conversation through the artwork created."   Feb 5, 2021    link

collaboration with Carren Clarke, Sunflower, 2017

Mid Day Storm  (Fragments)

Two of the rolling racks

17th Street Market Gate

first found punk sculpture, paper clip holder, 2012


Mural painting

Cityscape in Noir, #85, 2020

Stranger in the Street   (Cityscape in Noir Series)

JUNE 30th, 2016, MY LIFE CHANGED because I was “laid off ” as a graphic designer… a job I’ve done for most of my adult life. AT THAT POINT, I decided to leave that work behind and take the leap to become a full-time artist and designer.

Very soon after the switch, people started askng me to do odd jobs… the kind of jobs that are too small or weird for a contractor and too complex for most people to do after work or on weekends.

But soon after taking on this new venture, I BEGAN TO NOTICE people started saying: “...hey, I know a guy!”

And I found out, that guy was me. :)

_RAMSEY       website  

FRAGMENTS looks to separate from this style of painting by casting the viewer’s eye skyward.
The use of aesthetically dramatic cloud formations as the central feature in the paintings, accompanied by fragments of man-made structures that occupy a small portion of the painting, attempts to create a space where the viewer can focus on the abstract shapes, vibrant colors and natural complexity of the sky sans the complete obstruction of man’s world.

The CITYSCAPES IN NOIR series demonstrates personal, emotional conflict and social disconnection through deliberate placement of shadow and light to draw attention to isolated subjects in the paintings. These works painted with oil and acrylic on canvas and paper are inspired by American painters Edward Hopper and Charles Sheeler.

more images and VIDEO      

AS THE ARTIST my commitment to initiating conversation through the art work created, serves as commentary of American politics and society (Passion Pain and Politics series),  observations of social conditions and isolation (Cityscapes In Noir series) with an awareness to honesty, practical use (FOUNDPUNK), design (ARTBIEK, Sculpture) and composition (FRAGMENTS series).

Rayfield with his father

Dad, 2008

I Put Away Those Childish Things


Church Hat No. 24

Church Hat No. 1

Stanley Rayfield realized his love for art early in life, pursuing his passion before graduating high school. In 2009, Stanley graduated from a nationally ranked fine arts program, Virginia Commonwealth University, School of the Arts in Richmond, VA with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Communication Arts. He furthered his study by undergoing intensive training in classical realism through Grand Central Atelier in Long Island, NY. Stanley cites his Christian faith and the likes of Henry O.Tanner and John Singer Sargent as some of his sources of inspiration.

Stanley’s portraits possess a photo-realistic likeness and skillfully capture the soul and spirit of the subject. With this gift, portraiture became central in Stanley’s fine art career, most notably when he entered the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery Portrait Competition at age 19. The painting of his father entitled, “Dad”, earned 2nd place in the competition in 2009.    [His work has been] acquired by The United States Pentagon, museums, one being Virginia Museum of Fine Art, universities, collectors, as well as featured in prominent art publications. Collectors of Stanley’s artwork include Academy Award-winning director, Spike Lee.   

His website

"My dad, Ralph Gabriel Rayfield, is my hero. This painting is a narrative about aspects of his life, and his struggles as a man. My dad is an acute diabetic. He had this disease long before he became my father. While raising me I have watched how this illness has caused tremendous complications. My dad has had heart surgeries, amputations, vision problems, infections, and a host of other medical traumas that have taken a toll on him and my family. Despite the trials my father has faced, he always put me first and gave whatever energy he had into raising me and teaching me how to be a man. My dad has endured very much in his life. I hope in this painting to convey even a portion of his vitality."

Comments on winning 2nd place for the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition


Details about the Black History Museum

and Culture Center:


• Open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, 10am-5pm


• Parking on the street, or in the lot across W. Leigh St, in the school parking lot (free).


• Entrance is on the side, with steps and a ramp.


• Fees-- $10/adults; $8/seniors and students w/IDs;

$6/children 5-12; FREE for children 4 and under.


• SAFE: Visitors must wear masks, and use gloves when engaging the touch screens. Gloves are handed out.


• Call for an appointment if you want a tour, and COVID-19 guidelines.

Lots of interactive screens!

Maquette of Bojangles statue; Bill 'Bojangles' shoe shine kit, and a tuxedo like the one he made popular.

a reproduction of the 1960 Woolworth's Luncheonette.

122 W. Leigh St,    Richmond, VA 23220       804-780-9093

Rucker created the video, the music, and performed the music for the installation of Proliferation        

Watch Video 

Storm in the Time of Shelter

Artifacts in Rewind

Artifacts in Rewind

REWIND information

video in article explaining his work with the robes, and system racism

video of his remarkable cello playing (wait for the chopsticks and look pedals):

I cannot adequately express the impact that the multi-media installations of Paul Rucker have on one's understanding of the history of racism in the US. It is is felt before it is understood.

A printmaker working in stark woodcut prints, Dennis Winston carves images based upon personal experiences. He portrays childhood memories, family members, scenes from his career in the military and higher education, as well as reflections on religion and political activism. Winston consistently rotates and shifts his subject matter from seemingly straightforward moments of everyday life to complex narratives exploring current and historical events. He intends for all of his compositions to spark conversations about our similarities and our differences. “I’ve found through my art that if you get people to look at something, it will help them to see or understand something in a different light,” he states. “Art creates a dialog for diverse views.”

“The woodcut allows me to use a bold and direct black and white approach in my work. This is an ordinary medium through which I endeavor to capture telling moments in the lives of ordinary people. It is an attempt to reveal something of their character, the history that has shaped them, and the spirit that sustains them.”


“My work reflects both my urban and rural experiences. As an artist, I am driven by needs that are both aesthetic and social. My themes are universal and are concerned with the everyday reality of all human existence. The woodcut allows me to use a bold and direct black and white approach in my work. This is an ordinary medium through which I endeavor to capture telling moments in the lives of ordinary people. It is an attempt to reveal something of their character, the history that has shaped them, and the spirit that sustains them. These works express essential ideas, and I have merged my vision and the medium to celebrate both the process and my perception.”        link to website

Dennis R. Winston is a Virginia artist and educator. He is a graduate of Norfolk State University and the University of Richmond and has done post-graduate work at the University of Colorado and Virginia Commonwealth University. He has served on the faculties of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Virginia Commonwealth University and Virginia State University and the Governor’s School of South Carolina. He retired as the Coordinator of Arts Education and the Humanities Center for the Richmond Public Schools.

Winston has received honors both locally and nationally as an artist and as an educator. He has been included in an educational multimedia series entitled, “African American Artists: Past and Present,” and recently was included in the textbook publication “Below the Surface; Ethnic Echoes in America’s Modern and Contemporary Art”.  from VisArts

Recently, Winston was part of a show in India about African American Artists.

Going Home, 2002

Young Girl, mixed media, 2016  at the VMFA

In Memory of Walter and Sue Rose, 2009

Winston uses the grain of the wood layered with relief images to create his tree series.

Sunday Morning Sisters, 2012

Steven discovered his love for art at a very early age. With little interest in anything else, Steven took the next big step towards his pursuit of a career in art when he earned his bachelor’s degree in fine arts at Virginia Commonwealth University. He would later earn his masters in fine arts from Marywood University.  --from Walker's website

I didn’t come from a family of artists. I wasn’t top of my class and didn’t win a lot of awards, but I’ve always had a strong work ethic and the passion to work on my craft. I continued to show at a string of coffee shops, libraries, and other businesses until my hard work paid off with a few local awards that caught the attention of two gallery owners. I should have quit years ago, but that would have proven so many people right.       source

Born in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and raised in Richmond, Va., Walker is a prolific and dedicated “nature” artist. He received his BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and began a career in illustration. Soon thereafter he began teaching at VCU and then pursued his MFA at Marywood University. He began to exhibit his work in galleries and was well received. His many accomplishments include awards in plein air painting and landscape competitions. He won a blue ribbon in the Ohio Plein Air competition. His work is in many private collections such as Boy Scouts of America, Dominion Resources and the United State Air Force. He has been in many solo and group exhibitions.    link

Interview with Walker by Carrie Lacey Boerio

The first time I saw Steven Walker's work was at the Glave Kocen Gallery in Richmond, Virginia. I was gobsmacked. What struck me first was his dramatic points of view; they were so engaging. Everything about his paintings were a delight to me--his colors, the textures, the subtleties, the composition. And the light...always, the light. The things all artists consider in their work, but Steven Walker took it all to a much higher level. He always works in series. Not just landscapes, but the Drink series, the Farm Equipment series, the Urban Nocturnes (of Richmond). His portraits. It is his willingness to talk about his thoughts, anxieties (which I can really relate to as an artist), and his process that makes us feel like he is accessible. He is an artist's artist. I think of his style as 'heightened realism".  --Linda Hollett-Bazouzi

A Late Night on L, 2016

Still Standing, 2021

Wet Your Whistle, 2020

Currently Untitled, 2020

Still Standing, 2021

Study, oil on paper


"Art can tell stories. For years I would talk about injustice by reciting numbers and statistics. When you say, “We have over 2.3 million people in prison,” it’s too large of a number to comprehend. During a residency around prison issues at the Blue Mountain Center in New York, I found some maps that I felt could help tell the story. This project shows the proliferation of the US prison system from a celestial point of view. Using different colors to indicate different eras, the viewer can clearly see the astonishing growth of this system over time.

"In May of 2009, I was honored to be part of a Prison Issues residency at the Blue Mountain Center. While there I had the honor of being in the company of some amazing people. Artists, activist from around the world provided over two weeks of inspiration, knowledge, and camaraderie."

“My goal is not to desensitize, but to create awareness around the parallels between our country a hundred years ago and our country today.

I don’t think art was ever meant to be easy. One thing I want to do is make the next generation after me a little bit safer by creating empathy. I want people to see how they’re complicit in what’s happening today.”

“[I]t’s not the KKK that poses the greatest threat to the well-being of black Americans, or even the “alt-right.” The biggest realization is that white supremacy will continue in this country as long as white progressives fail to acknowledge their privilege and participate in the inequities under which they benefit.”

“As an artist, you can often feel like an imposter in your success. We have to address this poor artist mentality. Since receiving the Creative Capital Award, I have received support from Joan Mitchell, Rauschenberg, Guggenheim, MAP Fund. The list is long, but I still have an imposter complex, which makes me feel inadequate and not deserving. Creative Capital has helped me feel more gracious, in some ways more confident in accepting these accolades and awards.”      Read more 

Paul Rucker is a visual artist, composer, and musician who often combines media, integrating live performance, sound, original compositions and visual art. His work is the product of a rich interactive process, through which he investigates community impacts, human rights issues, historical research and basic human emotions surrounding a particular subject matter. Much of his current work focuses on the Prison Industrial Complex and the many issues accompanying incarceration in its relationship to slavery. He has presented performances and visual art exhibitions across the country and has collaborated with educational institutions to address the issue of mass incarceration. Presentations have taken place in schools, active prisons and also inactive prisons such as Alcatraz.

He was awarded a 2017 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a 2018 TED Fellowship, a 2020 TED Senior Fellowship and the 2018 Arts Innovator Award from the Dale and Leslie Chihuly Foundation and Artist Trust. His most recent award is a 2020 Art for Justice Fund Fellowship.

Rucker is an iCubed Arts Research Fellow at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia and Curator for Creative Collaboration for VCUarts.      Link to Website

Day 23: Paul Rucker

Day 24:  Black History Museum and Culture Center

Week One/Page One

Week Two/Page Two

Week Three/Page Three

Week Four/Page Four

Day 22: Steven S. Walker

African-American Artists

In thinking about the NMWA #5womenartists challenge in March, I asked myself, "Could I name at least one African-American artist each day for every day in February?" In about 5 minutes I had 22 names, and after focusing, I now have closer to 50, or more. Quite a few have art in the VMFA (Virginia Museum of Fine Arts), and many are from or live in or near Richmond. My criteria (as with the women artists), was if I could remember their name OR the work of art.  

Day 25: Dennis Winston

Day 27: Keith M. Ramsey

Day 26: Stanley Rayfield

Page One        Page Two       Page Three       Page Four

Page Four