At Brookfield Properties, we believe art has a positive impact on the people and communities that it reaches. That’s why we partner with a diverse collection of artists whose artistic and cultural perspectives continuously inspire and motivate us to learn more about ourselves and those around us.
2021 marks the 45th anniversary of Black History Month. This month, we are highlighting four artists who have brought exceptional art to our shopping centers and continue to inspire us through their creative talent as well as their commitment to celebrating the cultural achievements of Black men and women.
With their answers to the prompt “What does Black History Month mean to you?” we hope that we can shine light on the importance of inclusivity and representation not just through art, but in everything that we do.
Marlon Diggs is a self-taught artist from Newport News, Virginia. He began pursuing his passion for art as a child, drawing everything from cartoons, comics, action figures, and athletes. Drawing influences from his surroundings, he incorporates the ever-changing world of pop culture into his work, expressing his inner thoughts and experiences. These are captured through layers of bright, bold colors and patterns coupled with popular and relevant images from his childhood that are utilized to express himself. His work is the perfect mix of two prolific genres of contemporary art—pop and urban street art—and has been exhibited in major international markets including New York, Paris, and Tokyo. Learn more about his art at marlymcfly.com.
"Black History Month to me is a time to appreciate what should be appreciated every day. It’s a time to celebrate the uncelebrated and I’m honored to receive recognition. Growing up you hear about all these Black figures in history. I guess it never really crossed my mind that I would one day be celebrated."
Christopher Burch is an artist and educator. His works conflate the distinctions between lived/living human experience, mythology, folklore, and history. Within Burch’s works–influenced by the accounts of painting, narrative, portraiture, landscape, folklore, surrealist literature, and Black rituals of transfiguration (both sacred and secular)–we see life and death, rebirth, retribution, and the afterlife as an ever-evolving thematic structure. Learn more about his art at goyagoon.com or @goya_goon.
"To me, Black History Month is a harsh reminder. Black history is the history of the United States. The historical fact is that oppressed people have carried the unfortunate and massive burden of pushing this country toward a real moral commitment to protecting humanity. The very reason that there needs to be a Black History Month speaks to how much work we as citizens in this Republic must fight to establish a greater reconciliation with our past, present, and future realities."
Sonia Jones is a self-taught mixed media artist based in the D.C. metropolitan area. Sonia began the work of exploring her West African ancestral roots and slowly became a student of its Black anthropology. The murals and portraits she creates aim to explore Black identity across the diaspora and widen the viewer’s and her own experience of “The Black African.” She takes inspiration from her ancestral West African roots and tries to connect them to her Black American heritage and culture. Through a process of self-reflection and with the help of various fabrics and paints, she is able to tell the colorful story of her people. Learn more about her art at:
"Black History Month serves a dual purpose for me. It serves as a time to celebrate the legacy and accolades of Black people, and it serves as a call to action to continue the work of those who came before us and fight for real justice and political sovereignty."
Yetunde Sapp is a multimedia artist, born and raised in Washington, D.C. She is now a student at Parsons School of Art and Design in New York where she is studying Fashion Design. Her most current works include murals of Frederick Douglass commissioned by the Anacostia Watershed Society as a part of the water drain project. She was the youngest artist to be featured in the “Anacostia Unmapped” art show in the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities building in D.C. this past summer, and was featured on the NPR Kojo Nnamdi Show to discuss her art further. Most recently, Yetunde featured her illustrations in the children’s book “My Dear Queen” by author Lawrence Carroll, which focuses on celebrating the diversity of Black hair as it relates to young Black girls. Learn more about her art @ye.sap.
"Black History Month to me is simply a month to pay homage to Black culture and those who have paved the way for us to get to this point. As much as I appreciate that it exists, I do think that people should make it a practice to honor Black lives every day of the year, not only supporting Black education, excellence, and businesses during the shortest month of the year. In actuality Black history is American history, and I don't think that that is emphasized enough, so I hope that for the future it is something that is more widely accepted and taught. I love being Black, and Black History Month gives me the opportunity to celebrate that."