By D. Myntia Daniels
The beautiful thing about the summertime is noticing the way people interact with each other and the way people interact with nature. There are many barbeques at the local parks with children playing. There is always a basketball or a soccer game going on. There is black culture oozing out of Harlem with soulful music playing as you roam the streets and vendors selling crystals, books, clothes, and incense.
I saw a woman walking on my way to the train at 8:00 AM and the sun was beaming directly on her extremely thick Afro. It was as if the deity Oshun was approaching me and it reminded me of my pen drawings, and how the copper tone of the pen is visible when light reflects off of it. Light reflectivity and fractals are very important factors within my art practice. So I have been drawing and combining drawing and painting together. I am able to play with the layers, lighting, and movement of my figures using this technique.
In a painting in progress I decided to paint my father and my brother when he was a baby. I began this painting with a white paint pen. I began drawing and layering the paint and the paint pen for value, depth, and the concept of electrical fractals within the body. This technique has allowed me to visually represent the nature that exists within us which is a constant concept for my work.
Summertime, especially in New York City, makes black beauty radiant.
Representing black beauty is another constant theme in my work due to the lack of positive representation I see of us on a regular basis. There are so many summer festivals that celebrate us in N.Y. that I love like CurlFest, Afropunk, the many hip-hop festivals. In Cincinnati we had our annual Black Family Reunion but nothing equates to the amount of black magic and pride in N.Y.
Summer 2017 has been filled with family events and gymnastics. I especially enjoy my personal time with my family in the summertime when we have our annual reunions and enjoy games, cookouts, and performances for our grandfather. Family is extremely important to me so my family members have become recurring subjects in my latest paintings and drawings.
Upon the journey of finding myself as a black woman, whose identity has been lost due to colonialism, I began studying different spiritual systems. Intrigued by the deities of ancient Kemet and Smai Tawi (which means “the union of the lower self with the higher self” also known as Kemetic Yoga) and the many poses that are used in gymnastics and in Smai Tawi, I began to draw images that relate the two.
In a sketch that is referencing the deity NUT, who is known as the sky goddess, she wears a starry blue dress or is sometimes depicted as a cow. She is the protector of the dead and is usually in the downward dog yoga position. My sketch has the goddess hovering over a family who is running into her arms seeking protection from the dangers outside of her spiritual realm. Most of my work celebrates nature and references our connection to nature; drawing has enabled me to visually make that connection.
Observing people in the summertime has been the greatest source material for my recent works. In another drawing I used myself as the subject. I am sitting on a piece of land in a lotus position under a colorful sky that my body is radiating from. The marks of the sky, my body, and the land represent our connection to one another.
In another work in progress there is a figure doing a lunge in the middle of a path and is surrounded by trees. Trees are great muses due to their cellular shaped fractals and the way their shapes can also mimic the poses of gymnasts. Gymnastics is what every season of my life consists of which is why I have such a huge appreciation for the human body and draw so much inspiration from the figure. Because gymnastics consumes so much of my life and I have taken so much from the sport, I have begun a series of gymnasts and body shapes with three layers of ballpoint pens: red, blue, and black.
Summer reminds me of the many sources of nature that I take for granted, it provides the light I need to absorb into my melanin, and it allows me to really appreciate the beauty of my peers. Summer takes electricity to the highest level. I appreciate glistening rivers, lakes, and oceans, long walks, outdoor events, cold beverages, and vendors everywhere. Summer has a way of cheering up your long workdays and sad moods; it has a way of uniting people. Fresh fruits and vegetables are in abundance and glowing flesh is shown everywhere. Summer is my favorite season and of course I am a summer baby born in July.
Experiencing the natural world is an all-time high for me in the summertime.
Daryl Myntia Daniels was born and raised in Cincinnati, OH. She grew up as a competitive gymnast and when she is not making art she is coaching gymnastics. Daniels currently lives and works in the Bronx, NY. Her active lifestyle and interest in African theology, sacred geometry, and American History have been the primary influences of her art. Daniels discusses race, beauty, and identity with the use of pen and paint. She received her BFA in Painting at Ohio University and her MFA in Fine Arts from The School of Visual Arts. She is a member of the National Association of Women’s Artists Group and her work has been exhibited in places such as The Hole, the Annual Harlem Arts Festival, Cheri, La Maison d’Art, Chashama, the Untitled Space, and the Knockdown Center.
You can view more of D. Myntia Daniels' work at www.dmyntiad.com.