Whatever the reason, Edward Wade Jr. hopes people see the beauty in the elaborately painted and decorated faces of his latest subjects.
“I hope they get that the African people are beautiful,” said Wade. “Even though their customs and their cultures are different, and, to us, we may see something unappealing, I hope they get to see that they are beautiful people just like any other people.”
His series “Out of Africa” is featured at the Corinth Artist Guild Gallery as part of this year’s Black History Month observance. Wade will be present for an opening reception on Thursday, Feb. 9, from 5 to 8 p.m.
Most of the tribal faces and their distinctive adornments are painted in watercolor. Some are graphite drawings, and the exhibit also includes a few of Wade’s still life, landscape and people paintings and drawings apart from the Africa exhibit.
The inspiration for “Out of Africa” came while on a road trip.
“This picture came to my mind of these Africans with their faces painted or whatever they hang from their heads,” said Wade. “I just started to do my research and look up images, and then I just started painting. I’ve always painted people. This kind of got me away from what I had been doing for a while, which was landscapes and people in different landscape settings, city or otherwise.”
“We Are Beautiful” shows four children who have painted each other’s bodies.
“They don’t have the money to go to a Hobby Lobby and get canvases or paints or sketch boards,” said Wade. “These different clays that are in the earth, they use those clays and they use their bodies as their canvases. These four boys are good friends, so they help paint each other, and that’s how they express themselves artistically.”
Another piece, “Sons of Kings,” shows youth who only have white clay on their bodies.
“That’s separating those children out as children of the chief of this tribe,” said Wade.
Another shows a man wearing a lip plate.
“What I learned about that was when it came to the women, it really wasn’t at first a decorative type of thing,” said Wade. “It was to make their women appear ugly so that the white man would not come and take their women from them.”
Over time, the perception changed to something of beauty.
Originally from Milwaukee, Wade and his wife live in Marianna, Ark., and he is pastor for a church in Helena, Ark. This is his second showing at the Corinth gallery.
Wade began drawing at an early age and enjoys working with diverse color schemes and interesting shapes. He likes to appreciate the details in art and the world around him and encourages others to do the same.
“In the fall when the leaves are changing, I wonder how many people even notice these green leaves are in beautiful color, or are they in such a hurry to get from point A to point B that they overlook it,” said Wade. “They just walk past a beautiful monarch butterfly on a flower. When it comes to art, take the time to appreciate what you are looking at.”
Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Call 665-0520 for more information.