On Jan. 14, the African American Cultural Center (AACC) hosted the opening reception for their latest art gallery entitled Black Girl Maverick. The art gallery is the first solo exhibit of the work of Avery Bolden.

Bolden has a bachelor’s degree in art history from Old Dominion University. She is a native of Roanoke, VA and recently moved to the Charlotte area about a year and a half ago. According to information from the AACC, she is a self-taught artist who began professionally painting at 22.

Isaiah Lucas, the AACC program coordinator, led the artist talk with Bolden and asked previously prepared questions mixed in with questions the audience submitted before the event.

The event opened with questions about who and what story Bolden was trying to convey through her art and the title of her gallery.

“[I’m portraying] the excellence of Black women and women of color. Their resiliency. The idea is that the Black girl maverick is a play on the term “Black girl magic.” A maverick is a unique individual. I wanted to highlight the idea of creating spaces for Black women and women of color. I was thinking of how we can determine a space for [a] home for ourselves,” said Bolden.

Several art pieces feature Black women with different hairstyles. Some of them have beads and others have pineapple updos.

When Bolden was asked about the importance of Black hairstyles in her art she said the following, ”hair is a big part of Black women and women of color. In certain places, we are discriminated against for wearing our natural hair and I wanted to negate the stigma of not being accepted in the workplace. I want to show [Black women’s] space in the culture of America. I‘m thinking it is time we take [our culture] back for us and realize how powerful that can be.”

As the event progressed further, Lucas began to move toward specific pieces and series that Bolden shows in the gallery. Lucas asked Bolden about her thoughts on her “nudes” and what they meant. Bolden shared that it was the first series she completed as a professional artist and that it symbolized the beginning of her journey. One of the paintings in that series was her first painting and marked her first collaboration with her father.

“When I was creating [the nudes series] I wanted to talk about the beauty of women, especially women of color. These women are bare and exposed and they have an air of vulnerability to them. Black women and women of color are often denied these things and I wanted to portray that,” said Bolden.

Lucas also asked Bolden what her favorite pieces in the gallery were. Bolden mentioned two pieces titled “Beads and Braids I” and “Beads and Braids II.” She expressed satisfaction with how the pieces turned out and mentioned her inspirations for the more recent fashion week shows that highlight Black women and their braids. Bolden feels that the pieces “Braids and Beads” and the fashions shows reveal that Black women and Black hair are being taken more seriously in the fashion and art world.

Bolden also illustrated the message behind another piece entitled “Our Matriarch,” which she credits as a gift to her mother.

“I feel like the matriarch is the world. The woman carries the basket on her head just as women seem to carry the world and are seen as nurturing the world. Women are essential to the world as it is, especially the matriarch. That role has been an integral piece of my life. And sometimes you can look to anyone in your life to find that mother role,” explained Bolden.

The gallery also features a singular abstract piece that Bolden believes shows her versatility. She also said it represents a pathway to greatness and that path is not always straightforward. She related the piece to her own life by saying that is a professional artist who did not study fine arts or have any formal training. Her journey has been up and down but her goal is that the endgame is always up.

When Lucas asked Bolden about her artistic influences she mentioned Kerry James Marshall, Kara Walker and Jacob Lawrence. From these artists and others, she focuses on how they captured the essence of Black people through shape, form and detail.

Bolden is just getting established in the Charlotte and overall North Carolina area, but she has plenty of goals for where she sees herself in the next five years.

“I hope to continue having opportunities like this where I can showcase my art and start conversations around it. I really want my art to spark conversations. Although I would like to sell pieces, I don’t think that is the ultimate goal for me. Conversations are what sparks longevity. I also want to be an inspiration to other artists of color and give them spaces like this to display their art and talents. I aspire to provide scholarship and resources through my endeavors,” answered Bolden.

As the opening reception began to come to a close, Lucas asked Bolden what advice she would give to a Black girl who was still in the process of finding her maverick. Bolden explained the importance of knowing that one’s journey is just as important as the destination.

“Being a maverick is about understanding yourself and your purpose and advocating for yourself. Your journey will take you [to] different places, but there’s not a rush in the experience. You’ll find your maverick on your own time because that is the only time you have to worry about,” said Bolden.

See Bolden’s art for yourself and see if you can feel the messages and emotions she wanted to portray. The AACC will be hosting the Black Girl Maverick art gallery through Feb. 11, 2022, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, at the AACC Gallery on the second floor of Witherspoon.

If you are interested in purchasing any of the artwork that is on display contact Avery Bolden over email, mavs.corner@gmail.com, and discuss pricing. You can also follow Bolden on social media @maverickscorner_.