The Emperor Paintings — A Personal Story Behind the Works

I painted this triptych entitled “The Emperor Paintings” in 2014, one of my last years living in my hometown. At the time I was not living in the happiest frame of mind that I knew in my heart that I could, should be living in. I focused my energies on personal discontentment that was outside of me. Being an artist I painted my way through this strife and in doing so, a powerful learning experience. I painted this series of work to express my view about how the industrialized world had become a prison for the innocent and underprivileged, but that there would ultimately come salvation. The final three pieces became the “The Emperor Paintings”. What I learned through this series was the prison that I was fighting against was my own, that I had chosen to remain there and that I could decide to rise up at any moment and seek that salvation. These paintings that expressed my feelings, created by my focus on the world outside of me, was simply a mirror. I was looking out and painting right back inside of myself the whole time. With this realization I learned that no one was going to do it for me, it was solely my responsibility. In order for things to change, in order to restore balance to my life, in order to re-enter into the happy frame of mind that I was desperately searching for I was going to have to become brave and face my own personal fears. I would have to find the strength to be brutally honest with myself and choose to turn my newly realized thoughts into positive action. That would be the only way the prison that I had created for myself would crumble. Crumble it did.

The world right now is very different than it was seven years ago when I made these paintings. For one, personally I am in a good place, in a happy frame of mind, healed and able to be beneficial to others again. But my heart weighs heavy as I am watching wonderful people across America and throughout the world rise up against an industrialized system and oppressive society that has effectively created a prison for many who are innocent and underprivileged. The prison that they rise against is very different from the one I reference in my story. They did not create theirs. I am proud of each one of these beautiful and brave people. I am proud of their strength and resolve. I fear for them and I support them. Through the power of their voice I found the strength to share this deeply personal story behind a series of work that has become a powerful positive influence in my life. For this, to them I am thankful. Perhaps day is arriving where we will all be free from our prisons. For this I pray.

These paintings currently hang at Nile Restaurant in the Church Hill neighborhood in Richmond, VA. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic that we are experiencing, these paintings can not currently be seen by the public. As we move through the various phases of re-opening and once restaurants are able to fully open to their supporting patrons, I hope that you will visit this wonderful establishment to see these paintings and grab some of the best Ethiopian cuisine outside Africa. Nile Restaurant is located at 306 North 29th St Richmond, VA 23223. You can call to order curbside pick up by dialing 804 648–0791.

Originally published at on June 12, 2020.

Abstract Contemporary Fine Artist, Owner/ Creator Bohemian Culture House & Market