I learned about Varnette Honeywood many years ago when I worked as a docent at the California African American Museum. She was an African American artist who depicted scenes of everyday living. She had a masters from USC and taught art to low income students. One of my favorites of her work is of girls getting their hair pressed (does anyone still do that?). One of the things that I loved and enjoyed about her work was the different shades of African American peoples. From the milky light skinned red haired peoples to the deep dark brown peoples with black hair and everyone in the middle – people described as red, honey, chocolate, all represented in her work. Her work was colorful, light and deep at the same time. It reminds me of warm summers in Sacramento at my grand parents house, surrounded by relatives and neighbors. Warm, friendly, homey – even a little country.
I became aware she passed a few days ago when I went internet searching for an anthology of her work. Hoping by now a book had been published of all her work. Instead, I learned something else. And I was upset, even though I didn’t personally know her. I felt a kinship with her. I felt like she spoke to me personally with her art.
I honor Varnette Honeywood in the circle of my family.She did some great work. I hope she one days receives the world recognition she deserves.
arcylic on canvas
collection of Houston and Kinshasha Conwill