By Ayana Ross
Oil on canvas, 2020
48 x 36 in.
Ayana Ross creates visual narratives that explore issues of identity and cultural awareness while highlighting moments of racial disparities and intergenerational mobility and progress among African Americans. Her everyday figures are often informed by events in her own family history, one rooted in the American South, but have proven to reflect a greater connection of shared experiences, values, and aesthetics. Ross combines visual nostalgia with contemporary motifs that draw connections between the past and the present. Her fragmented spaces of bold, graphic fields of pattern and color energize the composition providing context and visual cues. Her fragmented stories offer an opening for viewers to insert themselves and illuminate their own parallel or intersecting experiences.
A young girl stands boldly in My Turn, the outlines of a game of hopscotch laid out on the ground below her. Bold patterns and color set in large triangles point to the future, one hidden behind her. Clad in vintage dress, she is a figure of the past, a memory of self or others. But her turn is about more than the game, it is her moment to define her own future, to be the focus of attention as she claims her place in the world. The painting thus becomes a celebration of the potential of young Black women and a challenge to those that would deny them the opportunity to realize their potential. My Turn is currently included in the traveling exhibition Rising Voices 2: The Bennett Prize for Women Figurative Realist Artists organized by the Muskegon Museum of Art.
Ayana Ross is the winner of the 2021 Bennett Prize for Women Figurative Realist Painters. She received a BS in Apparel Design and Merchandising from Georgia Southern University and began her professional career as a designer in the fashion industry. She later returned to school to study Art Education at Greensboro College and received a MA in Liberal Arts from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Ross recently completed a MA degree in painting from the Savannah College of Art and Design and balances her painting career with her work as a secondary art teacher. Ross has exhibited in various group shows throughout Georgia and her works are held by private collectors throughout the US and abroad.