Renowned artist donates paintings to FAMU

Steve R. Allen next to his painting “Mwasi Ya Kumu Iyoladé.” Photo courtesy:

On the second floor of the Meek-Eaton Black Archives, is the most beautiful piece of art I have ever seen. The vibrant colors and patterns are absolutely breathtaking.

The painting is one of six recently donated to the archives by world-renowned artist Steve R. Allen. The donation was part of Allen’s multi-million dollar HBCU gifting initiative.

Some of the art donated were coveted pieces featured in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Allen’s work hangs in capitol buildings all over the world. His art is also featured in many prestigious art collections in Greece, Brazil and China. He is known for his bold use of color and ability to create in many different styles, and the six paintings on display in the Black Archives reflect this.

As an artist and an obvious art enthusiast, I went to see the paintings as soon as I learned about their arrival. I saw pictures of the paintings before I arrived, so I knew what to expect for the most part.

But those pictures did not prepare me for the size of the painting.

The massive, 4 feet by 9 feet painting titled “Mwasi Ya Kumu Iyoladé,” is the first thing you see as you step off the elevator on the second floor. Its beauty is so captivating, it’s almost overwhelming.

In this piece, Allen pays homage to Black women as goddesses in an effort to change the image of how God has been portrayed. The beginning of the name, “Mwasi Ya Kumu,” means Queen in the Lingala language of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “Iyalodé” is also one of the names of the orisha, Oshun.

The details in “Mwasi Ya Kumu Iyoladé” are amazing. The longer I looked, the more I noticed. I stood about three inches from the painting analyzing each and every element. I am glad I did because I noticed that some of the details in the piece were three dimensional.

All of the artwork donated by Allen was beautiful and intricate. My second favorite painting is “Positive Man.” It is on display next to “Mwasi Ya Kumu Iyoladé.”

If you have not seen the six pieces of art by Allen that were recently added to the Black Archives, you are doing yourself a disservice. I recommend visiting the archives to see them for yourself.

The Meek-Eaton Black Archives is open to the public Monday – Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.