"Attack" Works on Paper by James Pate

The second part of the ongoing REACH artist series at Sinclair Community College, James Pate's "Attack" charcoal drawing series is an exploration of the tempestuous beauty, alluring grace, and ferocious power in the African American female body. Opposing oppression and weakness, she is bold, brazen, and bare, her nude, voluptuous body a towering strength in every kinetically activated composition.
A stunning companion to Linda Stein's "Fluidity of Gender: Sculpture" exhibit, Pate's sensuously captivating world of sleek, crisp lines and elegantly etched value structures showcase a woman clad not in clothing, but the fiery cloak of awareness in every fiber of her skin, telling the viewer that she needs no hero, no rescuer of the detrimental reality and terrifying peril. On the verge of being attacked and pursued by targeting minute airplanes, she pays the metaphorically crafted danger no mind, averting her gaze away, seeming disinterested, nonchalant, or undisturbed.
Protective and unyielding, she is ready to fight off abuse with the slap of a hand, the toss of the coiled locks of her hair, and the grim line of full lips. All the while one may think she is all pliant softness and lush curves, but the reality is that underneath it all lies the ironclad armor of a warrior.
Thus, while I stood in front of Pate's work, seduced by the beauty and articulation, a specific poem by Maya Angelou came to mind. I could seriously hear her voice reciting it to me, these five compelling drawings, and to every woman who had ever felt a loss of power.

"Phenomenal Woman"

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size   
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,   
The stride of my step,   
The curl of my lips.   
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,   
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,   
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.   
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.   
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,   
And the flash of my teeth,   
The swing in my waist,   
And the joy in my feet.   
I’m a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered   
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,   
They say they still can’t see.   
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,   
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.   
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.   
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,   
The bend of my hair,   
the palm of my hand,   
The need for my care.   
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Along with Stein's work, Pate's is also up until March 7, 2012.
Don't miss out on Kin Killing Kin  (http://sugarygingersnap.blogspot.com/2011/10/kin-killing-kin.html ) up at the Ebonia Gallery until February 29th, the end of Black History Month.
I highly recommend seeing all three!


  1. Loved your blog, and I love James Pate's art.

    I felt honored to have my Fluidity of Gender exhibit up at the same time as his, during the REACH conference.

    Keep up the good work!

    Linda Stein

    1. Thank you so much Linda. It means a lot to have your thoughtful comments on the blog. I certainly enjoyed your show and will drop off my little slip for your box tomorrow! Heehee. Great work and look forward to seeing more! Keep empowering women and speaking out against injustice/inequality!


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