Unmasked At Last

After a half-century of effort, local African-American artists are emerging to the forefront of the arts, both in Houston and nationally

For decades, black artists everywhere have struggled with the looming adjective applied to their work, a word used to marginalize rather than celebrate. But today, African-American artists can be free of categories and cages, if they so choose. They are black. They are artists. The choice of how to mix those colors is theirs.

"In the old days, it was a tribal situation," says Lott. "European kings had a tendency to accumulate wealth. They accumulated it until everyone else was poor. African kings distributed wealth. You were known as wealthy when you had plenty to give away. So success depends on what your objective is. I feel successful because a lot of young guys came to me for help. They have done better than me. They want to earn a living, earn some zeros. When they do that, that's success for both of us."

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