By Carter Jackson-Brown
The first thing a friend asked me when she found out Tim Okamura isn’t in fact African-American was “What do you think about that?!” As if to question why that didn’t bother me, and subconsciously insinuating that I somehow should be upset or that the artist is appropriating the image of Black Women in America. Sorry, I don’t subscribe.
Instead, I told her how wonderful it is to see women of color, particularly black women, portrayed with honesty and warmth in a compelling juxtaposition. With the richness of each brushstroke, Okamura attempts to besiege the viewer with his fluency of observation: he invites you to consider reaching out to them or to listen to their stories. I see my sister’s triumphs; my mother’s sadness; my friend’s perseverance beyond her shattered dreams. I see the love of their children in some these women’s eyes, and the heartbreak that came afterward, when they lost that someone special for the very last time.
The work of Okamura is an important case-sensitive vehicle in the world of contemporary art, and the hyper-realistic painter deserves to be supported for his dedication as a visual documentarian of the black female antagonist. Not as a form of escapism, but as a means to construct an evolving healthy ideology of what “Black Life” represents in all its varying complexities. Okamura’s subject matter reflects a beguiling imagery, conjuring – at moments – fleeting thoughts of a time when all lines of color and commerce have disappeared, and leaving only the wealth of image in all its glory, no matter the color. In a world that increasingly showcases negative visuals (of) blackness, it is refreshingly profound to see this hopeful glow of possibility through the artist’s eye. A combatant of visual aptitude that conjures a fuller awareness of the true “Love, Strength & Soul” of a people, and their unfettered determination to prevail against all odds.
Photography By Rod Deal