A Beautiful Burden

About the Art

Simply put, I love the experience of being Black, but it is hard, nevertheless. Photography has helped me find a balance with this conflict.  My inability to shake my experience has transformed photography into an obsession.  There are always images in my mind that I am trying to capture. I have developed a sense of purpose and responsibility with this obsession I’ve created.  In this work, the people represent the beauty and our reality is the burden. 

Donald Black Jr.

Artist Details

Donald Black Jr. was born with, what he calls, “a hand that you wouldn’t typically win with” — young, poor, and Black.  By the time he reached the fourth grade he moved around the southeast side of Cleveland more than thirty times, witnessing more than some people could ever imagine.  At the same time, Black had already started developing an incredible obsession with drawing and making art.  This would lead him to getting accepted into the Cleveland School of the Arts. Here is where Black found photography. Photography became his way out. He would graduate from high school with thirteen years of perfect attendance before attending Ohio University to study commercial photography.  While at Ohio University, Black began searching for what he wanted to say in his work.  He was not exactly sure what he was searching for, but he was certain he wanted to photograph Black people.  Upon graduating from college, Black moved to New York City.  To Black’s surprise he discovered that he wanted to be back in Cleveland.  He moved back to Cleveland positioning himself right back in the neighborhood where he grew up.

back to top