Makeba Kedem DuBose
One of my strongest influences were the stained-glass windows in the church affiliated with my childhood school. As a child, I often wondered why there were no people of color in those beautiful windows. Being a huge part of my youthful curiosity, this fascination concerning the absence of people who looked like me later lead to my adding this missing element into my often multi-component stained-glass mimicked paintings, in the form of multi-hued, Afro-inspired abstract people. More recently, in addition to the stained-glass window influence, central themes of my work are now also informed by social justice issues related to mental health, spirituality, politics, race and gender.
America Me Series: Untitled – ongoing series. America Me: Missing 1930s to 2019 concerns the underrepresentation of women, children, and people of color in the media. I began incorporating the use of vintage newspapers into my work around 2015. This body of work began as a project for a museum exhibition titled Home that I was invited to participate in earlier in 2019. The Home show was specifically related to a specific small town, and the one story that caught my attention the most was of a Mexican immigrant woman and her family, but after much research, I couldn’t find enough supporting information to adequately tell her story through my art. After an inquiry about vintage newspapers to one of the curators, the museum had donated a cache of vintage newspapers from the 1930s to me for an unrelated earlier project, and I thought I’d continue using this medium for their show as well. However, after weeks of looking through these newspapers, reading the stories while looking for stories and images of people of color, I quickly realized that I’d find none during that era. This lead me to think about the fact that though many women and children, though in the particular African American women and girls had gone missing from the south side of Chicago over recent years, we don’t read or see many reports on this subject in the media, local or otherwise. Eventually, the stories of women from various cultures and races flooded my mind, such as the disappearances of Native American women from reservations, and women and girls of all backgrounds to the sex slave trade, and other stories of women positive or otherwise that were missing from the “official” media archives. Needless to say, and evident in the content of the work, the work that I thought I’d been creating for the museums “Home” show began to take on a much darker face, that though related to the theme of “HOME” was no longer a viable option for the museum show which had an entirely different esthetic and feel to it. America Me: Missing 1930s to 2019 is intended to be an homage, an ongoing series in honor of, and to bring light to the many women who’ve gone missing, and those who’ve survived attempts to disappear us. My work has always been colorful, bright—the main subject matter has always been women, children, family, and Love…with a spiritual twist.”