Last year, I heard about a painting by Jonathan Harris, titled Critical Race Theory, pictured below:
It depicts Black people, led by Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman, and Malcolm X, being covered up with white paint by an unidentified White man with a roller.
It’s the perfect painting for the present moment, when Florida under Governor Ron DeSantis is:
- barring public schools from participating in a pilot of the College Board’s new AP course on African American Studies, which he called denounced the curriculum as “woke,” “contrary to Florida law” and an exercise in “indoctrination,”
- gerrymandering in order to reduce the power of Black voters to a minimum,
- proposing legislation against teaching about racism and sexism in universities and colleges with the “Stop-Woke” act,
- and making “unapproved” books in schools illegal, with teachers worries about facing jail terms should these books be found in their classrooms. These unapproved books tend to be about racial minorities and LGBTQ people — surprise, surprise.
Here’s Jonathan Harris’ bio, taking from his site:
Jonathan Harris (b. 1988) is a visual artist who was born and raised in the city of Detroit. After attending the Detroit School for the Fine and Performing Arts, he attended Henry Ford Community College, Antioch College, and Oakland University, where he majored in Graphic Design and minored in Studio Art. Oil paints, acrylics and charcoal are his media of choice. He has perfected and become known for an oil enamel technique, resulting in graphic, high contrast portraits, without the use of a brush.
Jonathan’s work is emotive, with a focus on current events and the African American experience. Bringing awareness to social and world issues, in addition to instilling pride in the Black community, are goals that he strives to accomplish through his visual and curatorial work. Harris and his works have recently been featured extensively in the press, including on PBS American Black Journal, PBS One Detroit, CBS Local, and in the Detroit Free Press, Michigan Chronicle and Oakland University Post. One of the artist’s latest paintings, Critical Race Theory, created in response to recent controversy over the same subject matter, has garnered responses and sparked conversations across social media platforms around the world.
Harris’ art currently resides in prominent collections, including the N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Arts, David and Linda Whitaker, and Michigan State Representative Shri Thanedar. He served as a juror for Canvas Pontiac 2022, and his work has been exhibited at Swords to Plowshares Gallery. He has shown in and curated special exhibitions at Irwin House Gallery, as well as the BONDED exhibit at Beacon Park, along with a team of distinguished Detroit arts professionals.
In 2022 Jonathan Harris was named one of 2022’s Influential Artists To Watch by the Detroit News, and received The Spirit of Detroit Award from the City Council of Detroit, Michigan.
I ordered a signed print, framed it, and hung it up proudly in my home office: