In our “Black Art Matters” series, I talk with Black artists about how local and national protests are inspiring and fueling their work. Here is my conversation with Louisville photographer and multi-media artist Kenyatta Bosman on how their work as an LGBTQ artist is particularly important as part of documenting local protests. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
MICHELLE TYRENE JOHNSON: How do you feel your work is being changed, influenced by what’s happening right now with the protest movement?
KENYATTA BOSMAN: I’ve been going out and protesting and capturing what’s really going on, you know, full raw footage unedited, and I just like to keep things simple and clean. we we’ve been protesting for, I want to say, almost 70 days now. And we have not stopped and we won’t stop.
So it’s been very uplifting and very empowering to my work lately. Because I go out and I capture these moments of protesters, really like, speaking their truth and speaking their heart, how they feel about what’s going on.
JOHNSON: What do you think that your art does that protesting by itself doesn’t?
BOSMAN: My art makes people stop. It makes them think. It puts you in a place where you really have to stop and not worry about your outside life so much. I want to stir up some emotions within you, you know, either make you think of a friend, a family member, an acquaintance that you used to know. I want to bring up a feeling within you to make you feel like, this isn’t right, I need to do something. And if you can just pick one of your strengths and apply that to the movement and be some type of benefit, that’s what we really need.
JOHNSON: How do you think as a Black member of the LGBTQ community, your artwork isbeing changed?
BOSMAN: I’ve been able to express my queer Blackness a lot more. I haven’t been so afraid to show and express that. And I’ve recently had to had to study my Black culture, because it’s something that has never been presented to me. Because all that’s been put in my face is the white queer experience, which that’s not it’s not true to me.
JOHNSON: Why does Black art matter? Especially now?
BOSMAN: It matters right now because a lot of space that is taken up by white people in galleries and museums. So right now Black art matters because we want to be the representation of ourselves. We should be given the space and opportunities just like everyone else. So with that being said, we are taking our space back and we’re not asking for it.
JOHNSON: What you are trying to communicate right now, in the middle of these protests?
BOSMAN: What I’m trying to communicate right now is, nobody is excluded from this movement. We welcome everyone with open arms. You know, if there’s something that you’re not understanding, I don’t have a problem with talking to you if you’re really trying to understand what I have to say. But we just need more people on our side.
We are trying to get the ball rolling to get everyone to realize that this is the collective change that’s happened. It’s not one sided. This has to happen for everyone right now, in this moment, so we can move forward and build a better, bigger new world.