Arts of Barry R Irving
(C) Neo Afro
(C) Afroneo
Neo Afro Genre
(C) Awo

Community Folk Arts Central... Art  Moves!


( C )

Xngo D'Ina
/ New Generation at the Scene of the Crime

... is a work in progress started during my Junior year at Syracuse University 2005

I graduated in 2007 as a Non Traditional Student, returning after 31 Years pursuing my Pro Career as a Multi Disciplinary Visual and
 Performing Artist. 
I left in 1973 / 74?  with a 1.5 GPA and on returning as a late sophomore in 2005, I elevated that to a 3.8 GPA. with 4 straight
 Honor Roll Certificates and winning the Iris Perez Celis Award for Painting in my Junior Year.

Xngo ( Shango ) D'Ina... my first painting assignment, is a figure from my not yet published Book (C) Awo Ogbon Orisa which will illustrate my decades of research and development in my "Pre Orisa" ( African American Culture ) focus and post 1999 Ifa Orisa Intensive work.
My images carry narratives and symbolism from The US, the Caribbean, Cenrtral and South American Ifa Orisa Communities. 

One of the distinctions that I make in my work is that it is actively Afro Centric / 
 African American Experiential.
That distinction makes it akin to the very general "Black Art" experience ( as we know it ) because the only real
Genre type distinction that Black Art has in general is that it is ...

 1. thematically Black Experience Oriented and Centered ...
2 It is Pictorially Black and or Narrative of "Blackness" / Black life, symbolism  and Tradition ....

Watoto Xngo D'Ina

I distinguish my self from... ( yet fully Acknowledge and participate in ) Black Art as a historical reality. That is because I do not Identify by Colorism, or by the general terms and distinctions that the sometimes Ostentatious  Black Art Tradition can reflect.

As of 199 when I recieved "Ikofa" I dedicated my practice to my Ifa Orisa Traditions and Folkloric Associations / Symbolisms

My chosen Studio Genre at S.U. was Neo Expressionism...After the Abstract Expressionist  / Neo Expressionist Movement which drastically departed from European Formalism. Picasso was the Face of the Abstract Expressionists, though he was most known for his personal Cubism style.
 In the Neo Expressionist Movement, the lines of distinction became blurred and Jean Michael Basquiat's revolutionary form of Expressive Painting became the New Face and spawned a large sub movement from his personal influence and his radical  free form / layered  / text oriented painting style. Basquiat was "SELF TAUGHT" ... not a product of Art School but he studied the Masters and he also read the literary classics which were reflected in his text ridden images. He was a seeker ... curious ... sometimes lost, but very determined to succeed and he did

Pops 1972 / Casien Color on Board

There is no established "GENRE" distinction that defines Black or African American Art from it's own aesthetic base. Hip Hop Culture / which developed parallel to the Neo Expressionist Movement has 50 years+ towards that end because it was independent minded and close to the High Finance Music Industry.  Rap...the Original sparse form of Bass, High Hat and Voice, is the only living Modernized African American Culture that is both completely American and Completely defined "Authoritatively" from the "African American" ( Black ) Grass Roots Aesthetic.  Rap is about Black life, thought, opinion, struggle and Street Code.  As an Artist within the 70's Rap to 90's Rap / Hip hop Culture of NYC ...

the "Indie" ( Independent Entrepreneur ) Spirit was a driving force. 

Our Generation are Architects of today's African American Culture in it's entirety because we created and defined it from the African American aesthetic. That accomplishment aligns with period "Black" history of the 1964 Civil Rights Act

 and the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act and forward > Socially / Politically from that point in history.

The Era of Political and Ecconomic Growth began with MLK's work. We adhered to staunch ( necessary ) individualism of the NYC Hustle Spirit, in a time where almost every new rise or discovery was a Black first. We consciously sought Self Definition, Defining our "OWN" experience intellectually and Spiritually. Afro Centricity as a mindset - was an American / Africanist / Intellectual movement that is akin in spirit to Literary Movements like Afro Centrism, the Political / Activist Black Power Mpvement and the European Counter Euro Negritude Movement. These movements sought to center all things from a Culture Centric perspective and break from the confines of social / political negativity of Majority  / Colonial Culture.

We Are Lions ( of Jah Un"I"verse )  
Acrylic Fabric Paint on Canvas 2012  

Me at 20 with Mentors Leroy Clarke & Valerie J. Maynard / 1972 / Studio Museum in Harlem Artists Loft

I Left NYC for Syracuse, NY and Syracuse University at a time when I was steeped in Harlem Black Culture. I worked in Retail Management for 4 Years after getting Married at 19 and lost the job after marital and personal issues. I quickly aligned with the"Down Town Under Ground" ( Village Square Artisan's and Craftsmen's Guild ) I started the Conceptual wood company where I sold my collection of Lino Prints and Walking Sticks. I was active in Syracuse on the Grass Roots level. I got involved in local shows and Art Regionals. I also entered the Syracuse Mural Movement applying for the Job as team leader with the Y.C.S. Summer Youth Program. A local Artist Juan Cruz got the job and I helped his crew train and do their first 3 Murals @ North Side - Shiller Park, W. Side Park Shelter and at the Spanish Action League who administered the Local Mural program. We did the first Murals with 4 inch rollers as brushes.
I had my first mural Experience from the Studio museum in Harlem's annual Kwanzaa Mural Exhibit. As a member of the Studio Museum 7,
 I created a Mural for Ujima at the Flagship Exhibit in 1972.

Me at age 20 Photographed by renown Harlem Photographer Daniel Dawson

...mean while...In the mid 80's on the Streets of Syracuse / early Syracuse Art Scene / the Old Community Folk Art Gallery
 on Oak St and Salina in 1973, I mixed with local Artists Johnny Moore who was a Great and popular Portrait Artist, Labeeb Hameed, who later did work with me at the DTUG Collective, The Johnson Brothers who were students at Syracuse University and were seen as the local Stars making it in the Arts.  On the Street Street there was Jazzy, an Artist we ( myself and Badr Serraj, my Street Art Buddy ) met up with at night on So. Salina
. He was an Incredible Pencil Artist and a Chronic Alcoholic, but he was the man. Everybody admired his talent which was never developed by him as a way to live and pull himself up. It was quick money for him so he always sold but usually took what he could  get to buy Alcohol.
One look at Jazzy's imagery and it became obvious that Alcohol took him to a place of familiar detachment.

Hand Carved Mural Installation from Double Laminated Particle Board . Mural is on loan at the Hamiltion Hill Art Center, Schenectady, NY
Created in 1985 as Part of my Fellowship / Community Residency. I also made a Portable 4' X 8" Mural of MLK that was mounted near the entrance to the Jerry Burell Gallery. The status of that Mural is "Missing" according to management among other works of mine. In addition I painted an Abstract Mural on the outside Walls of the Center at 409 Schenectady St, Schenectady, NY.  ( Below ) All of this was done as part of my 1985 Fellowship & Residency.

The Tape and Strip style that I used was developed in Syracuse, N.Y. just prior to leaving Syracuse for the Capital District. I started using the "masking" technique for large outdoor Store signs. I did several stores on Upper State Street & Colvin Ave, South Salina St. & South Ave. During my short Stint as a
Sign Painter / Muralist, I did work for the Syracuse Housing Authority, Anhauser Busch  & Kennedy Square Management. 

1985 Mural I painted on the Wall of the Hamilton Hill Art Center. 

The mural's line design was done free style in masking tape. Then the colors were filled in and the tape removed. I mastered this style in large scale when I painted Mural type store signs in Syracuse's So. Side Black Community. I was asked to paint Lois's Lounge on State Street while I was painting a 40 ft Mural in Pioneer Homes. Every time I worked on one. another business man would aske me to come see them when I was done. The masking concept is used in silk screen print making and Canvas painting. the Geo Metric design is a strong influence of Jim ( James ) Phillips who was one of seven Artists who I shared a studio with as the second youngest SMH studio artist at 19. Justin Georges ( Sculptor was the youngest at 15. Philip's work employed a great deal of movement. dimension and optical illusion. 


New Generation At The Scene of The Crime   
( in progress)    2007  

Acrylic on Masonite

 / Acrylic on Burlap 2007 ( Neo Afro Anaylitical Pointillism )

My original orientation as a Young African American Artist was to reflect the range of Aesthetics that came from the Harlem NYC and 

the National Black Arts Movements back to the Depression Era WPA projects. "BLACK ART" developed "within" and "through" the confines of the

 American / European Art Wealth Patronage, Industry Markets and Education Systems. When discussing Black art Today, it becomes obvious that "personal" opinion is the Popular Aesthetic of valuation. Personal opinion doesn't always have the insight to define Black Art in it's essence

 within the culture from an institutional perspective which includes Black Organizations  -  Personal opinion and belief acts as the general description and valuation > which is limiting in terms of the ART PROFESSION and the basics that self taught artists struggle with. What art is or what an Artist is varies widely in the popular realm of understanding which is mainly visual preference. In the profession, an Artist is defined by his education, achievements and his ability to withstand critique by articulating his medium choices and intent. Popularity is a distinctly separate social issue in regards to an Artists lifestyle and financial success or failure. 

In FACT, there is no common description of Black Art other than being of the Black Experience...

... further > Realistic Imagery depicting Black people....not Genre or media based.

 Black Art is essentially Protest or reactionary... but distinctly American content or "American Perspective" > subject or statement wise. We are American cultured people ...Diaspora. People should understand  that ethnicity, and genetic profile is what makes one African or not. 

Culture is a definer of lifestyle and political belief ... American Culture a dispensary for Anglo Saxon / Christian tinted culture.

African African Americans have always been a protesting culture because America has never resolved it's Racial problems and hypocrisy that result from portraying to be a Democratically based country with democratic beliefs while not facing direct Systematically / Institutionally based Racism and policies that block the social / political progress of African American people. We who keep African tradition do so at a cost because society is not Africanist and therefore African tinted things of culture tend to fade to the background. There is an obvious need for examples of how Culture people can demonstrate that African American or African Culture is not just about slogans, calls and celebrations. As displaced Diaspora descendants we have to be scholars of our own traditions. One may ask why you should have to study yourself? The answer is that not everyone can or will. Those wo were exposed by events or a book or a friend they met will have a very different experience from those whose parents are artists or craftsmen or folk artists and the next generation went to school. The budding professional will NOT be concerned not with how to do his art. He won't be stumped by technical issues that are basic. He will be concerned with using his fundamentals of the Professional Art Practices that build audience, brand and quality.

In the general Popular Realm, ART itself > as a "Term" is highly personalized in terms of what it claims to be from the mouths of the

 Self Taught individual who see's "INDIVIDUALITY" - "GOD Given Talent" and "Will" as the definer. Artists who develop amateur practices and decide to go to College or Art School rely on Education & Networking in the field and the History that tells the story of where we are today. 

So an "Advanced" education actually places you in the American field fully defined from a "Euro American" Centric base.

You as an ethnic Artist have the choice to employ social statements and define yourself Politically or Racially...or not...

ART to an Art Schooled Artist is WORKING FROM ONE OR MORE GENRE BASES using the learned principles of composition, texture, style, technique, medium use and the "Chosen" defining artistic direction that is relevant to History and the Masters of European Tradition.

Baba John Mason ( Brooklyn Priest of Obatala and Babalowo, said in his Book "Orin Orisa" ...Songs for the Orisa


...African Art during the Colonial / Slavery times was relegated to the label of "PRIMITIVE" and was collected as examples of Anthropology. Artists like Picasso and Modigliani to name two renown masters of Modern Art Studied African Art as Inspiration. They both had African Sculpture in their studios to study and they used them in their paintings as subject.

Modern African American Artists create for Professional or Personal pursuit as individuals with "Artistic License" In Ancient times the Artist was highly regarded as a community specialist and sometimes a Priest. In every aspect of life the artist played an important role because everything had to be made including functional Art, clothing, Religious and Ceremonial Works.

In Tradition African Artists Artists operated under the African Patronage system. Religious works were commissioned and those Artists who were diligent established Guilds or Schools of Art under family names as Carvers in their field of distinction. 


Also creating a following or avenue of work that is continuous and for sale to a following

"Professional Practices in the Art" is an actual College Curriculum that is necessary today... was not as necessary in my early days because in my now esoteric education, we studied Advertising and Illustration which is the basis of Modern advertising. Professional Practices is the "Modern Field" of resources and understanding on how to self promote, prepare, archive and / or know how promotion and the basics of the industry work for your benefit.


Niger Vamp'in
Patroness of the Niger River
Goddess of the Winds,  Rain

...  and   drastic   change  ...

Acrylic on Canvas 1985

BLACK ART IS SOCIAL COMMENTARY ...not a style or media genre

IF YOU CALL IT "BLACK ART" then you are expressing a form of Creative Social PROTEST

WHETHER IT IS PASSIVE OR AGGRESSIVE. BLACK Art as a definition makes the work a statement of protest 

against the prevailing negative aspects of - Americana Culture - that promote inequality in any way


They came to assimilate ( raise a family, work and have a better life ) to experience the American Dream which at that time was Legit and functioning amidst Social Racism from Original Americans as well as the first wave of early European immigrants. Assimilation, which the large majority of African / Caribbean immigrants did in America was to willingly take common work to support yourself,  "adopt" the benefits and social opportunities in the majority culture, pay taxes and be a good citizen = do your life as a beneficial American and being a cog in the whole machine.

A great many folk from the Caribbean came here before the 1964 civil Rights Act and became part of the American Middle Class and they are still there. Some ( MANY ) became part of the wealthy classes. Assimilation does not equal selling out. 

IT WAS THE WAY OF PROGRESS FOR PRE CIVIL RIGHTS ERA. Education, Work,  Social Progress AND Raising a Family 

This is a Self Portrait of My "Spirit of the Hunter"
Adapted from the work and Imagery of one of my Favorite Artists Frida Kahlo

Those successful immigrants represent the African American Core of America. They can't be labeled as Coons as  the shallow call them ... because they are liberal minded - as some from the Popular based "Black Construct" mentality, will assert. There has to be assimilated people for the protection and progress of the whole. Assimilated does not mean sellout...

Intellectualism or speaking proper English is seen by many as "Speaking the White Mans language" 

This coming from someone who rejects education as indoctrination and who is writing in poor to fairly competent English.  Lacking any indication that they understand that THEY speak the "Vernacular" language that THEY reject as Indoctrination. Language is how you express...How you express is from your state of mind...If you have no language you tend to emote in order to physically express what you cannot verbalize. Language ...both visual and written... is a Sword.

The Stone & The Shield- James Meredith Integrating the University of Mississippi
Acrylic on Canvas 1986