Marabou, paintings in hand, returns to FAMU

Turbado Marabou talks about arat with FAMU students. Photo by Paulette Jordan

Art Talk is a monthly event where art graduates from FAMU visit and talk about the importance of visual arts. The host for the most Art Talk was Harris Wiltsher, a FAMU fine arts professor.

“Art is a very important subject that more students should be engaged in,” Wiltscher said. “If there’s anyone who is great at educating about art it’s Turbado.”

Turbado Marabou is a 1988 graduate who’s birth name is James C. Miller. The session was informative for those who are art majors or those and those who are interested in learning about art.

Marabou knew that he wanted to become an artist at the age of 3. He was so attracted to art that he has memories of drawing on furniture which caused his family to purchase markers and paper for him.

Marabou says that he learned the sense of who he was in Wisconsin. He was attending the University of Wisconsin to get his MFA. It was a culture shock for him, he said, and it inspired him to step out of his comfort zone.

“So many people, especially those who attend HBCUs, have a cube that we’re in when it comes to our culture. Visually we have contributed to art,” he said. “The imagery of who we are is very important.”

Marabou often enjoys using watercolor and color pencil for his art. “Find the medium that works for you,” Marabou said.

His recent trip to Africa inspired the paintings that he presented.  He would take photographs with his camera and then tackle the paintings.

The first painting he talked about was “Women With Jar;” it is of an African woman with a jar on her head. From its appearance it looked like it was done with mostly a pencil and the jar on the woman’s head was done with blue paint. It brought out her emotions and the scene at the time.

Another painting, “Zulu Chief,” was of an African chief with leopard attire and a headdress. He detailed everything from the headdress, jewelry, skin tone, and background. The colors made the picture look almost 3-D.

He also had a drawing called “Wild Sea.” It was an outline of a face that had eyes, a mouth and nose.  It looks like a drawing that would be seen in a fairytale story.

“Once you put an image out there, you have to be prepared to start a conversation,” said Marabou.

His scariest moment as an artist was almost getting shot at by a group of gang members while he was working on a mural.

The artists he looks up to include Ken Falana, John Biggers, Charlie White and Aaron Douglas.

He derives his inspiration from African history and his own life experiences. He hopes to do more paintings based on Afrofuturism.

“Do what sets an alarm in your head and ask questions later,” Marabou said.

Marabou also owns the company Deep Roots Arts and Creative Service.