Affirm Black Women Portrait Series: Toni Morrison

Portrait of Toni Morrison with quote. “The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being.” (2019, Watercolor and ink on paper, 18” x 24”, by Lydia Makepeace)

“The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being.” - Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison’s powerful and poetic voice centered the experiences of Black women in America. She was the first African American woman to win the Nobel Prize in literature for her novel Beloved.

I was feeling restless and rusty when I painted this portrait and I think it shows. The painting wasn’t progressing how I’d intended so I decided to experiment with some color, texture, and a white grease pencil. Having now read Toni Morrison’s book Beloved, with its layered textured histories, it seems fitting.