Black: Mashell Black solo exhibition curated by Laura Bonas Palmer June 19 – July 31, 2021 at Akwaaba Gallery.

As a curator, I use my eyes to look for emerging artists like a pig uses their nose to smell for truffles. Once discovery is made, celebrate. Today, we celebrate artist Mashell Black.

The best abstract painters are those who have mastered drawing realism. More importantly, my favorite, the human body. Pollack, Kandinsky, Bowling, Lewis, and Thomas are some of the best abstract painters created by God. If Mashell stays the course, he will become one of the greatest painters.

Sun Breeze (2021), Oil on Wood, 24x22in


Had the honor of meeting the owner of Akwaaba Gallery, Laura Bonas Palmer. Akwaaba means welcome. As soon as I walked inside, nothing but genuine hospitality. Transparency with prices was seen on the exhibition labels on the walls. Laura takes pride in having her gallery in the West Ward community of Newark, NJ. Akwaaba Gallery is adding creative and economic value to the community. But more importantly, adding hope and opportunity for artists. Laura is a businesswoman who works hard for her artists. She spoke about artist Mashell’s works with so much passion. A good relationship between an artist and gallery owner is vital. It’s a marriage. Looking forward to supporting the growth of this long-term marriage.

Carnival (2021),, Oil on Wood, 48x31in


Collectors (especially you Next-Gen Collectors) run and/or call Akwaaba Gallery right away. Purchase a work by Mashell. If the show is sold out, then ask to look at other works by him. Many say collect what you love. I say collect what you love after doing some research. Art is an asset. Money on the walls to be passed down to generations. To be framed and preserved with care. Generational Wealth begins with us investing in our artists and communities. Then owning that creativity. Artists make sure you provide a COA (A certificate of authenticity) for your work.

Rollers (2020), oil on canvas, 48 x 31 in


Rabiyah in The Garden (2020), oil on wood, 24 x 30in


Ancestral Motif (2021),Oil on Wood, 56 x 48 in


About The Artist, Mashell Black

Born in a small rural community on the island of Jamaica in 1980, Mashell Black found a calling in expressing himself creatively when school supplies and local resources were not available to provide him with the foundation of traditional education. After moving to the United States in 1994, Black’s family encouraged him to continue pursuing his art. With the watercolor lessons that his step-grandmother gave him, he also learned to read and write, improving on the limited education he received in his native country.


Black went on to excel in a traditional school environment in Tenafly, NJ while maintaining his love of drawing and painting. With a substantial scholarship in hand, he attended Syracuse University, graduating in 2003 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Black continued his education and pursued a Master of Fine Arts at Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts, completing his degree in 2006.


From construction work to picture framing to substitute teaching, after graduation Black worked a number of jobs while building a space where he could concentrate on his art. Along the way, he also started his own house painting business. With the blessing of his wife, Rabiyah, Black returned to creating art, developing new techniques, and engaging the art world full-time in 2016.


With the start of the new decade, Black is expanding his art practice even further, channeling his experience as an immigrant and an African American. With one foot firmly planted in the world of painting and the other in drawing, his technique reveals a common theme of isolation as he exists between a state of belonging and not belonging, exploring the place he occupies between them. Equally devoted to both disciplines, Black now uses his creative talent to recognize the spiritual connection that art manifests within an observer, within a community, and within our society.



About Akwaaba Gallery

Established in 2019


Akwaaba Gallery opened on February 15, 2019. Akwaaba Gallery is a hidden Newark gem located in the historic Fairmont neighborhood. The gallery features diverse and eclectic contemporary works of art in various mediums. Akwaaba’s mission is to engage the community and public with exhibitions featuring emerging local, regional, national, and international artists.


Akwaaba Gallery is quickly becoming the art hub of the West Ward and a welcoming venue to the community and surrounding towns.


In 2019 Akwaaba had a total of 9 Exhibitions featuring over 70 artists, including an Exhibition for High School students.  Akwaaba’s Exhibitions and Artist Talks are well attended by residents from  Newark, surrounding towns, and NYC.

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Black is on view June 19th – July 31, 2021 at Akwaaba Gallery, Located at 509 South Orange Avenue, Newark, New Jersey 07103, United States