P. Muzi Branch
Artist’s Statement 

           "...the principle of collage is the central principle of all art in the twentieth century." -- Donald Barthelme (1931-1989) 

I have always been intrigued by the collage art of Romare Bearden, the social commentary paintings of Robert Colescott and the early political drawings of Dr. Murry N. DePillars.  The aforementioned artists inspired me to use a combination of techniques to create this series of work.  

Parts of my compositions are hard-edged and representational.  I work on one section at a time, finalizing a certain contextual area of the work. I challenge the viewer to defuse the personal symbolism of the American flag by using the "painterly looseness" of abstract expressionism.  The montage/collage of photographs helps draw the viewer closer while giving insight into the historical significance of the content.  

I capture in paint and snatches of photographs the triumph of a nation that has moved from government sanctioned African slavery to electing an African American President.  I am asking and answering a hypothetical question:  What would African Americans who lived and died pre-civil rights think about the campaign and election of President Barack Obama? 

I believe they would proudly wear the “O”  

“YES, I AM”                                                              $2700
Acrylic on paper
39 X 28”

Historically, in the United States and South Africa, the term "boy" was used as a pejorative racist insult towards African men, indicating their subservient social status of being less than white men. The Black Community began to call the males “MAN” to negate the derogatory term. On February 12, 1968, 1,300 Black sanitation workers went on strike in Memphis, Tennessee. The participants in the strike carried signs that read “I AM A MAN,” demanding justice, humanity, and freedom. This painting depicts one of the sanitation workers on strike carrying a placard with the phase on it. The letters are cut out so that the American flag behind him show through to represent how America does not see or honor the saying. The man in the photo is of voting age, however he is wearing an Obama pin to indicate that without the civil rights movement and voting rights there would not have been a President Obama.

“BI-CULTURAL”                                                      $2700
Acrylic on Paper
39 X 28“

There is nothing like a father’s love. It’s a love that will protect, nurture and guide. This painting depicts an African American father who loves his child with tender strength, who teaches his child to love his Black cultural identity and protects his child from the institutional racism pervasive in American society. The image exemplifies three types of freedom. The first kind of freedom is “freedom from,” a freedom from the constraints of society. Second, is “freedom to,” a freedom to do what we want to do. Thirdly, there is “freedom to be,” a freedom, not just to do what we want, but a freedom to be who we were meant to be.

"Yes He Can"                                                          $1200
 Acrylic paint, and Collage
Framed Dimensions - 26" X 21" 

This image of an African American mother carrying her son piggyback with the Obama pin on her jacket was created to empower, inspire, and uplift individuals from all backgrounds, particularly African Americans, by showcasing in this mixed media painting the rich history, resilience, and achievements of the African American community. Through this painting, I aim to encourage unity, celebrate diversity, and promote cultural understanding. By reflecting the journey of Africans in America, I strive to create a visual image that sparks conversations, fosters empathy, and drives positive change in society. The ultimate goal of this artwork is to ensure that every individual feels seen, heard, and valued, and to contribute to a more inclusive and equitable world for all. I believe that socially and politically engaged art can break down barriers, challenge perceptions, and unite communities, paving the way for a brighter and more empathetic future.

"Yes They Did"                                             $1200
Acrylic paint, and Collage
Framed Dimensions - 26" X 21"

African Americans, having fought in all of America’s wars, are still having their civil rights in America attacked, and their respect for the flag questioned. This painting depicts two African American Boys in front of an American Flag.  The older boy is carrying the younger piggyback, The Obama pin on tattered jacket is a symbol of "HOPE",  Beneath them is a collage of African American soldiers. Servicemen, who through their sacrifice made the election of a Black president of the United States of America possible.

 "Yes They Can"                                      $1200
Acrylic paint, Collage and Giclee
20" X 17"

This image of two African American Girls celebrates the triumphs of African American women in American Society.   they stand in front of the American flag and atop of a collage of inspirational African American Women.  The young lady holding the basketball wears a denim jacket with an Obama pin with signifies the role that African American women played in electing the first Black President of the United States of America.

African American women also played many important roles in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, including leaders, organizers, demonstrators, fundraisers, and theorists. They also worked in journalism and politics, established women's clubs, and supported education. Their efforts were often overshadowed by men, who are often given more credit for the movement's successes in popular history

"Yes, He Would Have"                                      $1200
Oil on Canvas
16" X 20"

This painting is an image of  Thurgood Marshall standing in front of the American Flag wearing an Obama pin.  I don't believe that He would have blatantly worn a symbol of partisanship, however with the state of the current Supreme Court and the specter of corruption lumming over some of the Justices, I am quite possitive that Justice Marshall would have voted for Obama.

"No He's Not"                                                        $2700 SOLD
Acrylic Paint on Paper
30' X 22"

This image of a young boy shaving in front of the American flag connotes the way that prepubescence Black children are often mistaken for or treated like adults by the police and sentenced as an adult in the American judicial system.