Artist, Travion Payne is an American artist from Houston, TX. While he has recently acquired his BS in psychology his passion for creating art has never left him. In fact, he likes to utilize his psychological background to create thought provoking paintings with a goal to emotionally influence the viewers of his work.
He enjoys painting portraits using a variety of vibrant colors and textures to add depth to the meaning behind each painting. His art sheds light on controversial topics that will give insight into the issues that black men face. Issues such as mental illness in correlation with religion, colorism, homophobia, and fragile masculinity within the black community. Although the paintings feature predominantly black men the themes can apply to various groups of people. The paintings also include hidden symbolism as well which intertwines with the numerous meanings behind each painting. Lastly, his paintings fuse apparent contradictions, seeking to heighten the experience of the spectator by creating immersive portraiture. His work explores an array of human emotions that are associated with different facial expressions. He has learned through his experiences, both positive and negative, that there is truly power and beauty within emotion.
The war on skin color is nothing new to the black community. Black people have long struggled with the complexities of skin color. However, black men are almost exclusively left out of the equation.
Thinking back on my own struggle with dark skin, I wonder just how many other men are silently carrying that same weight of insecurity, no matter how concealed and subtle it may be. Why don’t more black men discuss this topic?
You go through all the trouble raising a child only to have him ripped away and tossed out into a world where he is seen as a threat merely because his black. Is it normal for any parent to often be scared for the safety of their child? Yes. However, is it different when raising a black child. You must accept the fact that from birth your child is already a target and live with the uncertainty that one day your black child might not come back home. We must remain hopeful that one day the urge to fear for your child’s life will only be a distant memory.
This painting challenges multiple themes, but I’ll focus on one for now. The “Golden Child” is referred to a person who is popular. The admiration stems from infatuation with talent, looks, or other attributes. People only see the outside traits and rarely look within the individual. It’s so easy to forget that a person can appear strong on the outside while going through a mental battle on the inside. Statistically speaking, black and LGBT individuals have an increased risk of suicide due to societal factors and other complications. In this painting the “Golden Child” is a reflection of a reality that many face.
Most black men grow up in hostile surroundings where emotional and physical violence were the norm. Emotional abuse of a black child/man can cause them to feel less of a person. While this painting can be interpreted many ways, I chose to focus on the intertwining of hidden emotions and abuse!
The Golden Child is a person everyone seems to love no matter what. The admiration for this person spans multiple factions. This person is always thought of as a staple. I wanted to correlate this to people’s desire for materialistic things such as acquiring gold or other jewelry to seem more likeable even though one may not be. I also wanted to relate this to Exodus 32:4 where the Israelites desire and worship to gold lead to their ultimate demise.
“You can love what you see in the mirror, but you can’t self-esteem your way out of the way the world treats you.” Travion Payne
Man Up, is a phrase that I heard throughout my childhood. Black men are taught at a young age to hid emotions even when they are hurting inside. These men then grow up and become emotionless and heartless individuals. This becomes detrimental to relationships and leads to lies and deceit. It’s amazing how society can alter your perception of what you can and cannot do. We must change this way of thinking in order to see growth. IT’S OKAY TO CRY!
“I don’t see color; I see in black and white”…this was a statement that my old manager used to use when I called her out on her racist commentary. I chose black and white to show that even if people could see in black in white POC would still look different than you! Then I used red paint to place emphasis on our natural black features. The red is also used to show how black men are viewed as a violent threat!
For most black people our religious beliefs go back to slavery, when religion was the one solid foundation. Our ancestors lived with depression, anxiety, bipolar and PTSD but back then, there weren’t any names for those conditions. I can recall being told “just pray about it” when I expressed my depression to my peers at church. The lack of love and acceptance that black people face, specifically Black men, can lead to an emotional crisis. Many men have not been taught how to process and talk about their emotional experiences, furthering a sense of isolation, anger, and resentment. This needs to change! Seek help! You are not alone!
“We need never be ashamed of our tears.” – Charles Dickens