by The People’s Minister of Information JR
Karen Seneferu is one of the most thought provoking visual artists on the Northern California scene today. The pieces that I have seen from her collection of work dealt with African psychology after slavery and liberating our minds so that we can arrive at a place of self-realization and self-determination.
She has been featured at a number of galleries in the Bay Area, including First Love Gallery and Betti Ono Gallery – both owned by Black women.
Early on in life, she was fed Black revolutionary politics and art by the Black Panther Party at their free breakfast program. Now she is feeding the community revolutionary art that examines our condition and where we need to go. Karen Seneferu is definitely a name to look out for in the future. Check her out in her own words.
M.O.I. JR: Can you tell us how you became a visual artist?
Karen: It was fortuitous and by approximation. I initially used my body as canvas, but when I met Malik, his presence encouraged me to create. I started by making small soft figuratives that Ray Louise Hayward had seen on Malik’s table at the Art of Living Black studio at the Richmond Theater. Once she saw it, she ushered me into art.
M.O.I. JR: Can you talk about how being fed by the Black Panther Party has affected your artwork?
Karen: It certainly influences my movement in the world. I function in the world as a creative being, rooted in activism, rooted in exposing the truth, taking charge in changing the conditions of myself through my art and giving to the community through art and scholarship, which are some values associated with the Black Panther.
Again, there are elements in my life that I just step into time in. I was a child at Whittier School in Oakland, and across the street was a Catholic school that served breakfast
M.O.I. JR: How would you describe the kind of art that you do?
Karen: My work is ancient and contemporary. I make technological relics.
M.O.I. JR: What is the name and theme of your art show at the end of the month?
M.O.I. JR: Why is it important for people to support local and independent Black art?
Karen: Art is a mirror of the community that creates it. The more local the art, the better to view the self. Art reflects culture and conditions. Art gives history, validity and mirrors the needs of the community and, even in its locality, gives reference to a global view.
M.O.I. JR: How do people keep in touch with you online?
Karen: They can email me at email@example.com, Google and Facebook me.
The People’s Minister of Information JR is associate editor of the Bay View, author of “Block Reportin’” and filmmaker of “Operation Small Axe” and “Block Reportin’ 101,” available, along with many more interviews, at www.blockreportradio.com. He also hosts two weekly shows on KPFA 94.1 FM and kpfa.org: The Morning Mix every Wednesday, 8-9 a.m., and The Block Report every Friday night-Saturday morning, midnight-2 a.m. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.