Ekua Holmes is a native of Roxbury, MA and a graduate of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, who has devoted her practice to sustaining contemporary Black Art traditions in Boston, as an artist, curator of exhibitions, and as an active member of Boston’s art community.
Growing up in Boston’s neighborhoods, Holmes was profoundly influenced by what she saw was an absence of positive Black images and believed that art could fill this void. Holmes became the founder and director of The Great Black Art Collection, providing a platform for emerging artists while introducing Black art to new audiences. In particular Holmes held an affinity for other women artists, who like her, often put aside their artistic talents to take on conventional jobs to raise their children and help to sustain their families. In 2000, Holmes founded “Epiphany: Excerpts from the Lives of Black Women Artists,” agroup exhibition exclusively of women of color, who overcame obstacles, to become or remain artists. Consecutively titled Epiphany I, II, III, IV and V, the exhibitions ran annually between 2000-2004.
Holmes debuted her own artwork in 2000 in the exhibition Renewal and Regeneration at the Museum of Our National Heritage, Lexington, MA, and her first solo exhibition, Second Childhood, was installed in 2004 at the Hess Gallery of Pine Manor College, Chestnut Hill, MA. Her work has since been showcased in numerous invitational, solo, and group exhibitions in galleries throughout the New England area. In 2004 the Museum of the National Center of Afro American Artists acquired her collage titled “Goree,” and since then Holmes’ works have been added to the collections of the Willis Cultural Center in Worcester, MA, Boston Medical Center, The Boston Arts Academy, Dana Farber Cancer Center and the Boston Children’s Hospital, as well as numerous private collections. Most recently OneUnited Bank added Holmes’ work to its collection.
Holmes’ artworks reflect her vision of the world as influenced by a lifetime of moments shared with family, friends and neighbors. Ekua Holmes states: “Those relationships left impressions that are now infused in the layers of my collages and elicit both fond recollections and universal life lessons….” These voices from the past can be found in scraps of vintage wallpapers, snippets of yesterday’s news and pieces of discarded costume jewelry, laid upon fields of primary colors and multiple textures. Holmes uses these elements to bring a new and uniquely fresh approach to ageless, universal subjects encompassing families, childhood, relationships, hope and faith.
Holmes has been honored with artist residencies atVermont Studio Center, The Boston Arts Academy and the Rocky Neck Art Association of Gloucester, MA; and she has received awards, both for her artworks, and in recognition of her community outreach and curatorial efforts championing the Black Art traditions of Boston. She is the recipient of the 2013 NAACP Image Award, a Brother Thomas Fellowship, and a 5-year appointment to the Boston Art Commission. This year, Holmes was commissioned to create a Google Doodle commemorating Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday which debuted internationally on January 19th. In the fall of 2015, the book, “Voice of Freedom, Fannie Lou Hamer: Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement was released featuring illustrations by Holmes. In 2016 the book garnered a Caldecott Honor, a Robert F. Sibert Honor, the Flora Stieglitz Strauss Award from Bank Street College and is a Boston Globe-Horn Book Nonfiction Honor Book. In addition for her Voice of Freedom illustrations, Holmes won the Society of Illustrators Original Art Silver medal and the Coretta Scott King John Steptoe award for New Talent.
Currently Holmes serves as Assistant Director of MassArt’s Center for Art and Community Partnerships, and manages sparc! the ArtMobile, the institution’s vehicle for community outreach pursuing a mission of “igniting art and design in the neighborhood!”
Studio: Piano Factory
791 Tremont Street, Suite N200
Boston, MA 02118
All images on the site are copyright Ekua Holmes and may not be used in any fashion without express written permission from the artist.