Arts + Culture

Artist Portrays African American Fathers In A Positive Light

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cbabi boyac

“I’m a husband, father, then a painter.” That’s what artist Cbabi Bayoc of St. Louis, Missouri describes himself as on his website.

He is the artist behind the project “365 Days with Dad.” The project started as a New Year’s resolution of Bayoc’s to paint one African American father each day for an entire year.

Bayoc, whose own father died when he was 12, has aimed to portray African American fathers in a positive light throughout his career. A father himself to three kids ages 7, 9 and 12, Bayoc says his children are always around when he paints.

“Several of my kids have actually helped me paint some of the pieces. They do the under painting, they’ve blackened the canvas, they go to Kinko’s with me to ship the paintings off. So, they have been immersed in it,” he said in an interview with St. Louis Public Radio.

Originally from O’Fallon, Illinois Bayoc has used social media to create a following of his work. He posts his completed images on his Facebook page, allowing viewers to contact him to recreate memories shared with their own fathers. The images vary from the fun and lighthearted (going fishing, piggyback rides) to the bittersweet and solemn (returning home from war, saying goodbye to a parent).

And its not just fathers that Bayoc focuses on, but also father figures like uncles, older brothers and grandfathers.

“It’s something I struggled with in the beginning too – ‘Is it just going to be dad?’ But I realized that’s not everybody’s reality. In order to heal what’s going on in the community it has to be more than concentrating on dad. You got pieces that are more about the uncle or the older brother who stepped in, or your granddad. It’s really about just the male figure who’s been important in your life. Letting kids know ‘Dad’s not home. You can’t make him come home, but I’m sure there’s somebody around you who has either tried or you need to seek out somebody you honestly and sincerely can trust to be that figure that you need to show you the way, the lights,” explained Bayoc.

Though Bayoc fell short of completing 365 photos in 2012, he plans to finish the project this winter and find a place to exhibit his work. You can learn more about Bayoc on his website at www.cbabibayoc.com.

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