IN BLACK WE TRUST: A Valuable People
written by Moeima Makeba
African American talent, you could say, is the bread and butter of America's most lucrative industries and arguably its greatest import. Talent of all variations, from musicians to athletes to visual artists to even everyday internet celebrities seem to keep the world spinning, and represent the so called American spirit of "anything is possible".
Unfortunately, Black talent is often undervalued.
We see this time and time again.The NCAA doesn't pay its student athletes and universities and coaches make millions. World famous musicians of 50s and 60s many times died penniless while their record labels recouped the masters of their work and made their wallets fat. Internet stars get tweets, vines and other media stolen and repurposed for corporate marketing. Even our DNA has been stolen for scientific benefit.
For artists it is a well known joke and morbid truth that an artist's death allows for major appreciation of value. Undoubtedly the most well known contemporary Black artist, Jean Michel Basquiat enjoyed success during his short life and today his pieces have maintained a steady increase where once his paintings sold for $50 - recently his work, the 1982 Untitled, was sold for $110 million.
The piece was purchased by Japanese billionaire, Yusaku Maezawa, and this only highlights the fact that some of the biggest and most well known collectors are white or Asian - so the question beckons: Where are Black people in terms of investment in such talent? Do Blacks collect art? Is economic strength the reason they don't or is there something else behind it? It may also be the perfect irony that we cannot see that intrinsic value in ourselves because…
once upon a time, we were currency.
An entire war was fought, to keep them as such. Agreements were argued, negotiated and drawn up to appease former slave owners, so they would be paid appropriately for the "loss" they encountered because of emancipation.
This reflection on Black value is just a fragment of the overall motive behind Blck Prism’s Black Currency Collectors Series. We aim to highlight the immense worth of Black Creation, Black Ability and Black Creativity by creating a value exchange within a community centered around Black expression.
We are asking Black artists to inject our own value into a currency note in the form of visual expression. The collectibles are sold in a format that is relatable and accessible. It is all Black everything...Black artist, Black art, Black matting, Black frame. Each piece of Black Currency sells for its face value, $100. The artwork is the exact dimensions of the currency it represents (in this case a US bill).
We hope that you can invest in this exchange by collecting from each release of artwork from each individual participating artist, keeping in mind that each collaboration in the series is available in limited quantity. Imagine your wall with a series of bills...each holding a unique story…each representing a unique facet of the Black experience.