Think about the world’s most famous paintings of women. Now, think about the color of those women’s skin. Depressing, right? From the smiling face of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa to the strategically covered body of the Botticelli Venus, the lovely ladies of the art history canon are without question predominately white. Thankfully, however, someone is working to change this, one brushstroke at a time!
Afro-Cuban artist Harmonia Rosales seeks not only to combat this stereotype but to offer an empowering alternative with her beautiful recreations of iconic paintings, where she subs out the white females for women of color.
In the artist’s own words, “I do this for myself, what I would like to grow up seeing, what I would like my daughter to grow up seeing and appreciating.”
Rosales creates the paintings to set an example of beauty for her daughter and other young women of color, a powerful deconstruction of the “white is beautiful” statement that seems to flow throughout classical art.
The artist has received some backlash for some of her more religious themed paintings. For instance, in her fearless version of The Creation of Adam (the Michelangelo fresco on the Sistine Chapel ceiling, which portrays the hand of God reaching towards the hand of Adam), Rosales depicts God as a black woman.
Rosales bravely proclaims in regards to this pushback: “Although it hurt me, it also encouraged me that I need to keep going. This is what art should be about. It should bring change. You should use your talent to empower and I’m so glad that my work is doing that.”
So much yes to all of the above.