I thought I’d share some ideas I have about cultural nationalism; these ideas were formulated during my college years and shaped by those who took time to teach me and influence my growth as a scholar and artist.
The Black artist who is committed to himself/herself as a Black person of a Black nation, has a specific purpose – that of creating an art which is functional, collective and committed; using forms and images which will define, identify and direct. The Black artist is creating art not for their self nor the sake of art, rather (s)he is and must create for the liberation of minds of all Black people – the students, parents, workers, leaders and the community. This art will address positiveness and reflect values that will strengthen a people and commit them to themselves as a nation.
The images the black artist projects are concerned with their African heritage as much as with our contemporary reality and they should be relevant to each era in which they exist. “The existence of strong links between art and culture are undeniable; for art derives it’s purpose and content from culture.” (Leuzinger) The African culture from which Black people spring, as well as the experiences of enslavement, freedom, reconstruction, civil rights, the Black power movement and the election of the first Black President of the United States, all have had a profound effect on the art and conscious of the Black nation. The artist will view these historical, political and social circumstances of a culture and using their particular perspective interpret all in their work. The artist’s roles, in relation to theirculture are to record, preserve and create expressions of positive consciousness. The artist is part of the community and working towards a cultural nationalism in the continuum of the Pan-African aspect. The communication of this consciousness is the goal of the Black artist as it is the goal of Pan-African people to survive.