Art is a Feeling, not a Color

“As an outsider looking in, it’s painfully obvious that Black art is American art.”- Dawit N.M.

Art is a Feeling, not a Color

July 06, 2022

​​Lady Eleanor has been reading darling, and her latest selection has caused quite the conversation. Poet, essayist, and cultural critic Hanif Abdurraqib explores Black performance and its intimate relationship with American culture in his book A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance. One cannot be without the other and yet there is still a divide; as if Black Americans must prove their worth, time and time again, subject to being categorized by skin color as opposed to talent. Reflective and transparent, Director Dawit N.M. is a brilliant filmmaker, who happens to be from Ethiopia. Left to his own devices he wouldn’t classify himself or his work as any color.

"I'm an outsider within this industry,” says Dawit. “I didn't come up as most did, so many of my thoughts and opinions come from a different perspective. The trend of diversifying in this industry seems nice on the surface but dig deeper and you'll see all the problems it's causing and will cause, not only for the industry as a whole but the individual creatives who are exploited by it. I don't want my career or work to be tainted by this new wave of 'social justice.' It's elementary-level thinking, it's toxic, and it'll get a SELECTED few of creatives nowhere fast. I don't want to perform for anyone, I want to be myself and that's the secret to connecting with people."

The definition of art has gotten lost in translation as corporations seek to add diversity to their labels. Art is meant to make you feel something. Its purpose is to connect the disconnects. Anyone can tell a story sweetheart, we all have them, but the ability to evoke emotion with said story is something entirely different. It awakens us to the realization that we are all more alike than we think.

"Our society has focused on the 1% that makes us different, that we've forgotten the 99% that makes us one,” Dawit explains.

America’s obsession with race and the classification of it has done nothing to stop Dawit from making the work he so cherishes on his own terms. Aside from connecting with people from all walks of life through empathy, emotion, and sometimes, pieces of himself, he takes pride in projects that are visually appealing, as well as substantial in message and theme. When you refuse to be put in a box, creativity has no limits.

Stills from some of Dawit's favorite projects:

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