Rahiem Milton: A Quiet Force in The Black Art Community
These profound words are the personal credo of artist Rahiem Milton, and from the looks of his work, he certainly approaches art with passion.
When I came across this young man’s art, I was awed by his ability to so masterfully capture expression and movement; as though his subjects would jump right off the canvas at any moment. Among his pieces I recognized the faces of black entertainment powerhouses like Pam Grier, the late Aaliyah Dana Haughton, and Michael Jackson. I also noted his fondness of recreating the ample figures and bold features of black women with his brush and ink pen. When I inquired about his preference for such subjects, Milton, who describes himself as shy and introverted, gave a mischievous chuckle.
“Honestly, I don’t just look at a black woman and think ‘Oh, she’s pretty, I’ll draw her,’ he said. “It’s more or less whatever I’m inspired by that makes me choose a subject. I like to think that my work is pretty varied. I love drawing people in general, and that includes beautiful black women. I love doing portraits, because I can capture the essence of a person. I’m not sure where that fascination came from, but ever since I was a kid I always had a preference for portrait art.”
Milton, who hails from Miami, Florida, began dabbling in art at the tender age of three. His parents noticed his abilities and enrolled him in several different art schools, ending with the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland, where he studied art and illustration. After working as an illustrator for several different publications, including the Washington Post and the Baltimore Sun, he decided to strike out on his own.
“I’m now a full-time artist. I put in five years at the Washington Post as an illustrator, after which I left to pursue my personal art. I’ve been freelancing since then.”
According to Milton, his shy nature is both a challenge and a useful ally when it comes to his art. He shared, “One of my struggles is that I’m so quiet, so when I am asked to talk about my work, it’s hard to open up. I find it easier to express myself and convey my message through art. Art, to me, is my way of communicating with the world. It’s my way of expressing my self without having to say a word.”
Despite his professed quietness, however, he was not shy about expressing his views on the way black artists are received by the art community.
“To an extent, black artists don’t receive the recognition and respect we deserve. I think it’s largely because there are still these stereotypes in some people’s minds when it comes to art, and if you don’t fit into that stereotype, you have to work extra hard to be taken seriously.”
By: Danielle Dixon
Follow her on Twitter: @tooprettydani