Grace Lynne Haynes
CONGRATULATIONS GRACE! A lead artist on several LA Commons’ projects, Grace’s art recently graced (haha!) a second cover of New Yorker Magazine. After working with us, Grace deservedly was selected as inaugural member of Kehinde Wiley’s Black Rock Senegal residency and is included in the 2020 edition of Forbes 30 Under 30 in Art & Style. She has exhibited at the Ontario Museum of History and Art, Untitled Art Miami, Dallas Art Fair and Paul Robeson Gallery of Rutgers University, Newark. Her work has been published in LA Weekly, New American Paintings, Creative Quarterly, and Culture Type.
Grace Lynne Haynes’s “Trendsetters”
August 31, 2020
Just a few weeks ago, the artist Grace Lynne Haynes painted her first cover for the magazine, a portrait of Sojourner Truth that marked the hundredth anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment. Haynes, who is based in New Jersey, returns for the Fall Style & Design Issue, which opens with a flash of color and a very big bird. We recently talked to Haynes about the role color and pattern play in her work.
Your images often display luminous colors. Do colors have a personality for you?
Yes, colors are the spirit of my paintings. They can both create a story and send a message; each one brings a new dimension to the paintings. I’m especially fascinated by the idea of dark and light existing in one image. When I was an undergraduate, I couldn’t find information on how to paint darker-brown skin tones, so I began painting my characters in a deep black. Since then, the color black has been the focus of my paintings. I want to challenge the notion that black represents evil and showcase how darkness can be positive and pure.
Your paintings tend to minimize facial expressions; you give figures collaged eyes and the outline of a plain mouth. Are you trying to give the body more expression by abstracting the face?
The eyes, which are collaged from photos, are the most realistic part of my paintings, but they’re rarely the focal point of a piece. The spirit of my paintings resides in color and in the positioning of figures. I simplify the face to draw attention to other parts of the image. Often, in Western society, our identity seems to lie in the color of our skin, but I strive to find identity in the colors we choose to surround ourselves with, the colors we’re attracted to.
You incorporate birds into many of your paintings. When did that start?
I’ve had an attraction to birds since I was a child—specifically hummingbirds. The hummingbird was my grandmother’s favorite bird; for her, it symbolized tranquility, beauty, and peace. She was born during a very harsh time in American history, but she still managed to thrive, and I like to honor her strength and legacy by showcasing birds in my work.