The Art of Living Black: An Interview with Raymond L. Haywood
Raymond L. Haywood has been painting and drawing since middle school. His art praxis is derived from years as an accomplished carpenter, illustrator and textile designer. Mixed media art is his passion. Influenced in his formative years as an artist living and working at the Vulcan Foundry Studios in Oakland, the time there literally forged his unique studio practice and his community involvement. He continues a community-based approach to working in the arts. His current studio is located at the American Steel Studios in West Oakland. Raymond is a seminal member of The Art of Living Black, the only juried African American showing and open studios hosted by the Richmond Art Center. He recently created “N/Visible Atelier” which is having its inaugural showing at Warehouse 416 in 2016.
What do you find most inspiring about making art? Tell us about your current projects.
What inspires me as an artist are other forms of art in relation to my paintings and silkscreen prints. My praxis of painting and being creative heals my soul and makes me happy. My work is about beauty and reflection, capturing moments in time that are fleeting and ethereal.
Current bodies of work: I am working on two bodies of paintings currently, the first is entitled “Ethereal Travels” and with these I am exploring abstract expressionistic landscapes inspired by specific locales I have visited.
The second body of paintings is entitled “ The Sea of Tranquility”. These paintings are influenced by my graffiti and ink drawings that become hand cut stencils. The four bodies of work in this
series are named after the intersections of the tranquillitatis: Nectaris, Crisium, Fecunditatis and Serenitatis.
How did you become involved with the Art of Living Black? How does your work represent and uphold the tradition of this exhibition?
Rae Louise Hayward and Jan Heart Schuyers were friends and mentors of mine. I initially met Rae in an African American Art salon called “The Colors of Black,” hosted by Professor Marie Johnson Calloway in 1987 or so. Jan Schuyers was the first African American female director of the Pro Arts Organization in Oakland. I learned a lot from her and the Pro Arts folks.
Rae approached me in 1996 to show in the first TAOLB and I have been showing ever since. I think I am one of a handful of artists who have been in consecutive shows for the past 21 years. Rae convinced me that the more we share our crafts and the gift of creating art the more effect it has on society.
Representing all the tenets of TAOLB is actually my story. When I graduated from the University of California at San Diego with a Bachelor’s degree in painting, I moved back from San Diego to Richmond. I lived on 29th Street, a stone’s throw from the Richmond Art Center. I was working in my garage and discovered the Art Center when a reporter from the Contra Costa times interviewed me. I received my Master of arts with a painting emphasis in 2003 from San Francisco State University in part from the mentorship of past director Rachel Osajima and Rae Louise Hayward’s influences. I was a silkscreen teacher at the RAC from 2010 – 2013.
The Art of Living Black is a showcase of all levels of artists from the African Diaspora. From artists just starting out who have never shown to professional artists like myself. We get to share the opportunity to show in a professional venue, peer review, community building and mentorship. I participate every year to continue to grow and honor the traditions and inspiration of artists Rae Louise Hayward and Jan Heart Schuyers. It’s my job to recruit new participants and mentor those who have never shown before.
What was your path to becoming an artist? Please share some of your favorite work.
I initially planned to be an oceanographer and do my graduate studies at Scripps Institute in San Diego California. I discovered painting, drawing and sculpture as an undergrad elective. I had awesome professors like Eleanor Antin, Faith Ringgold and Italo Scanga.
Who are your inspirations?
Artistically my inspirations range from authors such as Walter Mosley and Zora Neal Hurston. Painters that have influenced me are Sargent Johnson and Faith Ringgold. I am also very affected by films like The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover by Peter Greenway and Moonlight by Barry Jenkins.
What do you like to do when you’re not making art?
I love swimming, biking and walking with my wife, Monica Haywood. I also like reading science fiction and biographies of famous artists and writers.
What’s on your bucket list?
I would love to visit Brazil and learn how to drive race cars.
If you could meet one artist, living or not, who would it be and why?
If it were a male artist it would be Kerry James Marshall an African American painter. If it were a female artist/ author I would love to have a conversation with Octavia Butler, science fiction.
Why do you paint versus other mediums?
I am fascinated with the variety of the painter’s palette, the magic of making images from liquids and the fun of painting.
Thank you, Raymond.
You can see Raymond’s work and that of the other artists participating in the 21st Annual Art of Living Black here at the Richmond Art Center through March 2. For more info on Raymond’s work, other upcoming shows and social media:
American Steel Studios
1965 Mandela Parkway, Oakland CA
TAOLB Satellite Show Venue
Feb 25th & 26th 11:00 – 5:00 pm
March 1 Artist/VIP Reception 6 – 8 pm
March 3rd Oakland Art Murmur First Fridays 6-9
March 4th & 5th Open Studios 11 – 5
TAOLB satellite show, curated by Damon Powell Ph.d
416-26th Street, Oakland CA
Open Studio Dates
Feb 25th & 26th 11 – 5
Feb 3rd – Feb 26th