From the courtroom to the canvas, Anson Asaka is making his mark. The work of the civil rights attorney and visual artist is currently on display at katsea gallery located at 1 West Pennsylvania Avenue in Towson, Maryland. Entitled The Black Queen in All of Her Splendor and Glory, the solo exhibition opened March 4, 2023, and will be on view through March 31, 2023. The exhibition celebrates and honors Black women during Women’s History Month and is free and open to the public.
“This exhibition is for mothers, sisters, wives…every woman in our lives,” said Asaka. “It’s about celebrating and uplifting them. What inspired me to do this was when I traveled to Paris, I also went to the Palace at Versailles and saw images celebrating white women. That’s natural in a European country, and I thought about the African American equivalent to this kind of celebration of women. I decided to create a tribute to our women.”
He added, “I wanted to make a difference and to celebrate our women during this special month, especially in light of some of the things we see on social media and hear in some of the music. These things were some of the motivating things behind the exhibit.”
The exhibition includes paintings of famous Black women as well as those who are not well-known.
“This exhibition celebrates the accomplishments of Black women in every single career field,” said Asaka. “Women in entertainment, such as singing and acting to athletics. The exhibition celebrates women in law such as lawyers and judges, women politicians, and trailblazers in writing and activism. The exhibition also recognizes local heroes here in Baltimore who are doing great things.”
He added, “I wanted to celebrate all these great women now by giving them their flowers while they are still alive. I wanted to celebrate them through my art.”
Asaka is a Baltimore-based, self-taught visual artist. He has completed commissioned paintings for FMC Corporation and the Howard County Public Library, East Columbia Branch. Recently, Artspace in Richmond, Virginia selected Asaka to participate in the JAZZ: February/March Juried Exhibition. When he is not painting and drawing, he serves as senior associate general counsel for the NAACP national office in Baltimore, Maryland. He has a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Howard University and Juris Doctor from Rutgers Law School in Newark, New Jersey.
“Since I was a kid, I’ve always been into drawing and painting as far back as I can remember,” said Asaka.“Within the last couple of years I’ve really been focused on it. I’ve had three solo exhibitions, and this was the first one that I’ve had at a gallery. I’ve also had one at the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum. For a long period of time, I did not paint or draw. Fortunately, someone inspired me to get back into the arts.”
He continued, “When my daughter was young, I took her to an art workshop at the Baltimore Museum of Art. One of the facilitators saw a sample of my art that I was doing with my daughter and liked my work. They encouraged me to paint or draw every day. From then on, I got back into my art, and I have really focused on taking it very seriously.”
Asaka says some of the artwork on exhibition is available for sale.
“I’m trying to make the most out of my talent of art. My art is not just for art’s sake. My artwork usually has a social justice dimension to it. My last exhibition was about using art to protest against police brutality.”
Asaka’s exhibition at katsea gallery kicked-off with an opening reception.
“A lot of people really appreciate the artwork and the event, which also centered around the theme of celebrating women,” he said. “The reception received a lot of attention along with the artwork. The reaction has been very positive, and I’m very pleased with how the exhibition has been received.”
Asaka encourages those who haven’t seen the exhibition to experience it for themselves.
“People who come out to see the exhibition can expect to see powerful images of extraordinary Black women and ordinary Black women,” said Asaka. “The exhibition includes paintings of my mom, my mom and her sister, and my two daughters. My hope is that people will see themselves in these paintings and the possibilities and that there are no limits in terms of what our women can accomplish and what they can do. Not only in the professional arena, but in family life as mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters. I want people to take pride in themselves by seeing themselves in these powerful, great images of success and accomplishment.”
For exhibition hours, visit www.katseagallery.com. You can learn more about Asaka and his artwork on his Instagram page @the_asaka_gallery.