"Mom, Can Astronauts be black?" | Micah Johnson | Artist | Art Angels
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Micah Johnson

"Mom, Can Astronauts be black?"

Micah is a self-taught figurative artist who uses strong gestural lines combined with loose brush strokes to create dramatic portraits primarily featuring African-American children. These subjects, which are often inspired by his young nephews, began appearing in Micah’s work ever since he overheard his 4-year old nephew ask his mother a deeply disturbing question,

“Mom, can astronauts be black?”

Although Micah spent 7 years as a professional baseball player, you rarely see reference to his career in any of his works. He sees art as an independent journey with the opportunity to inspire a broader demographic around the subjects of racial equality, chasing your dreams without limitations, and the empowerment of young people.

The artist’s journey and historical documentation through the lives of his nephews make up the new series. The work is soft spoken, conveying messages of empowerment and the dismantling of racism in a beguiling whisper by exploring the contemplation of dreams without restriction from a child’s perspective. Inspiration comes easy when you stare at the children who are living their dream as superhero, basketball player, cellist, doctor, astronaut and more. However quotidian the components of his paintings might seem on the surface--including scenes of a child pulling the nostalgic red wagon eating fruit or readying for mission in astronaut gear, they are imbued with symbolism, historical significance and intent. Mainly, to inspire confidence in children of color to live whatever they dream is their heart’s desire. Can an artist be black? What about an astronaut? These are the heart-sinking questions Johnson wants no child to have to ask.

His latest collection of his work inspired by his young nephews will document their journey--from a pre-to-post Covid-19 world until the age of 18. According to Johnson, they are the future and the ones who will bring the change that we are all fighting for now.

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