Black G.R.I.T.S. (Birmingham)
The Maker: Lynthia Edwards
Lynthia Edwards has always made art that she defines as Southern.
How Southern? She first started drawing on Piggly Wiggly paper grocery bags.
Whether its paintings or quilted art, Edwards said she most often seeks to showcase black, Southern women and their experiences.
“I get a chance to tell a story, yell it loud, roar it! And then, you know, you can ask questions about it later,” she said. “I just really want to put it out there, how I feel, what I thought about it when I read it and just share it with you.”
For her art, Edwards takes on another persona.
“Black G.R.I.T.S. was the artist’s name I gave myself because I’m a black girl raised in the South,” she said.
But there is no hiding herself from her work.
“I love color,” Edwards said. “Color, it’s just my personality – lots of vibrant colors, neons – those are just my spirit, my energy.”
From the civil rights movement to architecture, and from people she has met to the way Southerners talk, Edwards said her work draws from where she’s from.
“I’m inspired by the South, the Southern experience, my own personal experience being a black girl raised in the South,” she said.
Edwards has created Black Unicorns Matter, an organization that aims to help talented girls from being overlooked.
“Me, being gifted or talented in the arts, they didn’t even think to put me in a gifted class,” Edwards said. “Honey, they didn’t pay me no attention at all, OK? So, I went unnoticed for a long time. So now I’m trying to shine the light on other black girls who are talented, and that is what my goal is.”
Edwards has expanded from painting to creating quilts that frame her artwork.
Inspired by quilting artist Faith Ringgold, the material gives Edwards a new way to present her work.
“I decided that I would start to put these paintings in these quilts and the quilts would be based on Southern women,” Edwards said.
Quilting gave her a chance to bring her artwork state in a more accessible form into rural communities in the.
Edwards grew up in rural Alabama, off a dirt road near Rockford in Coosa County. She took an art class in seventh grade and then some more classes in high school before getting degrees from the Art Institute in Atlanta, Auburn University of Montgomery and UAB.
The product: Paintings and quilts depicting the black experience in the South.
Take home: A painting entitled “Raindrops” ($250) on display in dk Gallery in Marietta, Georgia.