A young couple embraces while their lower halves morph into a handshake on a gold, water-coloured canvas. Artist, Camille Lauren, says this image represents a pure side of relationships not often seen in the media.
“Black love in the media is scarce … It’s based on myths and not always a positive view,” Lauren said. “We see relationships that are quick. They start quickly; they end quickly … The notion that black couples don’t last is really a myth.”
Lauren is one of 11 artists who participated in “Love: Art Exhibit” beginning Feb. 14. The event was created in response to what some say is an inaccurate portrayal of love in the black community.
Though Lauren said there are couples of African descent whose relationships are positive, these aren’t always the ones that attract attention.
“There are relationships that have stood the test of time (in the black community),” she said. “But you don’t often see those because they aren’t necessarily the ones that have the most drama.”
Amoye Henry, curator of Love: Art Exhibit, said this lack of positivity compelled her expose a different view. Henry’s exhibit celebrates three events that take place in February: Valentine’s Day, Black History Month and Heart month. The exhibit opened today at Linux Caffe in Toronto.
“Anytime I saw a black woman she was depicted as successful, but depressed and lonely,” she said. “Black men were portrayed negatively … as convicts or unemployed men who couldn’t support their families.”
Artist Lauren agreed. “When you see shows that portray black love it’s over-hyped,” she said. “The stereotypes we see are that there’s more rape, more incest, the circumstances are tougher and people come to define their relationships based on these ideas.”
Henry said media should make an effort to focus on the positives in a minority community.
“We are a multicultural society and it’s important to highlight positivity in a community that almost doesn’t get highlighted,” she said.