The exhibition titled "Journey," consists of stained glass pieces, monoprints and acrylic paintings that celebrate the dimensions of the Black experience and Collier’s connection to her roots.
The journey Collier wanted to portray was not an image of brokenness. Instead, she sought to connect the diversity of Black history with portraits of family, and ancestry. Many of her portraits highlight the relationship between mother and daughter or sisters.
Collier began her work as an artist at a young age. She recalled sitting on the stoop of her Bed-Stuy apartment telling neighbors of her big dreams. From this moment, it taught her to go after her dreams and not be complacent in waiting for someone to recognize her, she explained.
Pieces in the exhibit spotlight heavy weights in Black history, including Martin Luther King Jr. and Harriet Tubman, both of whom were inspirations for her work.
“When I think of ‘journey’ I think of Harriet Tubman,” explained Collier. “I think of the struggles and the strength of a women and our people.”
Her stained glass piece of Dr. King Jr. was created as an ode to the historian — as Collier remembers that her ancestors played a big part in her success. Her family’s journey from Georgia allowed her to live her dreams in New York City.
Collier admits that the journey of creating all of her work helped her heal from personal experiences and find the strength to trust in her faith.
She attributes her current passion for art to her exposure to texture and collaging when she watched her mother sew.
Her poem, "Everlasting Love," which Collier read at the exhibit’s reception, is dedicated to her mother who passed away in 2003. Written moments before her funeral, Collier decided that instead of being engulfed in the sorrow of her loss, she would create and celebrate the inspiration that her mother was to her.
The journey of Black artists get overlooked by the mainstream, Carolyn Butts, African Voices founder and director told BK Reader.
The nonprofit organizes shows, public arts events and publishes "African Voices" magazine, which includes poetry, fiction and art.
“That's why when I founded African Voices I wanted a place always for art," Butts said. "I wanted our readers to get excited about the artists — to the point that when you get the magazine, you rip off the front page and frame it on your wall.”
Pulling from her involvement in her community as an art teacher at several local schools including the former P.S. 210 and P.S. 20, Collier's work, which can be purchased at the gallery, is an obvious choice to highlight in the exhibition, Butts said.
The exhibition runs through March 7, at the African Voices Gallery located at 325 Lafayette Ave. in Clinton Hill.