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Harmonia Rosales

Harmonia Rosales (born 1984) is an Afro-Cuban American artist from Chicago.

Rosales was born in Chicago and grew up in Champaign, IL. She cites her parents as the spark for her interest in the visual arts. She attended Glenville State College in West Virginia.

Her first solo show, titled "Black Imaginary to Counter Hegemony," was installed at the Simard Bilodeau Contemporary in Los Angeles.

Growing up, she was fond of many of the classic Italian Renaissance paintings. Her family adhered to gender norms and she was told that would need to have a man to support her. When she grew up, she married her high school sweetheart and conceived a daughter. After realizing that the relationship wouldn’t work out, she got a divorce and left with practically nothing in her possession.

Rosales works to reinterpret Renaissance masterworks by replacing Black heroines as the main subject of the painting because she says that “religion and power go hand in hand” and the colonists had used religion to “manipulate and control.” She explains the idea that a Eurocentric white male dominated heaven is all what people seen and it is what everyone grows up around to the point that such a high value is placed on them. This view to her made her feel excluded from this Eurocentric dominated art world which helped to inspire her paintings. She said that she hopes to be able to empower people with art, even if it is a small group of individuals and to give women of colour “artworks that reflects their beauty that has been ignored for so long.”

One of her many works is The Birth of Oshun, an oil-on-canvas painting, which reimagines Sandro Botticelli’s work, Birth of Venus, by placing Oshun, the Yoruba goddess of fertility, sensuality, and prosperity, in a sea shell surrounded by black angels, in contrast to Botticelli’s painting where a White Venus, the goddess of love, beauty, and fertility, is in a sea shell surrounded by white angels. In this painting, Oshun has vitiligo that is made of gold patches that have roots in traditional Nigerian storytelling traditions. The painting is meant to challenge the perceptions of beauty because as she says, “traditionally, we see Venus as this beautiful woman with flowing hair. My hair never flowed, so I’m wondering why this is supposed to be a painting of the most beautiful woman in the world.” This painting works to show the beauty in imperfection, such as the patches of Vitiligo, a skin condition. She also says that she created this work with her daughter in mind in order to show her daughter that black women, and their natural hair, are beautiful.

Another one of Rosales’s works was The Creation of God, a piece of art that went viral in 2017. This painting is an oil-on-canvas piece that took two months to craft. In this painting, Rosales recreates Michelangelo’s Creazione di Adamo by displaying both God and Adam as Black women.  Some have described The Creation of Adam as having indescribable beauty in showing Jehovah’s finger and the elegant, naked body of the first man. In contrast, the painting created by Rosales shows God as a black woman and creates the illusion of the heavens as a womb from which she is birthing Adam in an act of strength and empowerment. This piece received much backlash, with critics going as far as calling her work a “disgrace, disgusting and cultural appropriation.” However, Rosales was trying to demonstrate that “we have been taught that God created ‘man’ in his own image. [But] in fact, we have created God in our own image.” This is why she called this painting The Creation of God. This image was created to show that White subjects are the standard in classic art while challenging the viewer to consider why that practice is commonly accepted.

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Harmonia Rosales Artworks
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