A little more than 150 art seekers trafficked the gallery that displayed 23 pieces of Canty’s original art which was on sale ranging from $25 to $500.
The pieces included abstract and landscape setting paintings, photographs and paintings of nude women.
“I like to paint abstract pieces and naked people—especially women,” said Canty, “I want to represent my femininity with everything going on in the world. I want to express myself freely. Most women worldwide can’t because they aren’t allowed. Some cultures don’t even allow them to show their hands or face (in public).”
Canty, 31, serving in her first year as an art teacher at Westinghouse, recently celebrated her birthday in November and said that she is both excited and grateful for the opportunity to display a mature version of herself through her art.
“It’s a new year of life for me and a new start to a new chapter in my life. I am accepting everything, moving on with my artwork and persevering,” Canty said.
Images in the paintings depicted women during lactation, puberty and a “mature version.”
“I’m celebrating that I am a woman, able to create children. Our bodies do wonderful things and we should be able to celebration that. I do. I am,” said Canty.
One portrait showed a faceless Black woman lying on her back, naked, bound in a pink ribbon.
“It’s strong, sexy, but also powerful,” said Dayna Davis of Penn Hills. “It shows the beauty and softness of women with very realistic feminine curves and how she is a willing participant of voluntary bondage.”
Davis said she enjoyed the showcase and that she looks forward to Canty’s future work.
“I’m impressed,” she said. “I know she will do well as an up-and-coming artist making headway as a Black woman and a Black artist.”
Canty has not only received praise and encouragement from family, friends and art enthusiasts in the community, but also through her students.
Ink, a music duo comprised of Westinghouse 11th graders Robert Rose-Thompson and Raynard Lucas performed original music throughout the night in the gallery for their beloved teacher.
“We love Ms. Canty,” said Lucas, who provides the vocals. “She shows she has faith in us, wants to support us. We want to support her as much as she wants to support us.”
Rose-Thompson, an acoustic guitar player, said that he enjoyed the atmosphere of First Fridays.
“We’re having fun. We knew it would be a lot of people to meet and play for as we played for Ms. Canty,” he said.
“As a Black artist, I feel like I’ve empowered my Black students to something one day. Instead of just telling them they can, I’m showing them,” said Canty.
Canty grew up on Black Street in Garfield with her four siblings and she played football for the Garfield Gators.
She said that she is most proud of is the fact that she is able to conduct herself as she chooses despite the fact that the neighborhood in which she grew up is rapidly changing.
“It means something to me to have a showcase in a community that Blacks are being pushed out of,” Canty said.
Courtney Jetter of Highland Park said, “With the mixed crowds that came in (BOOM Concepts) that night, she (Canty) is changing the whole perspective about the neighborhood with gentrification. It’s good to see her thriving in the changing community. We need to spread the word.”
Kinsel said, “The showcase aligns directly with our mission and vision for providing Black artists with a space to incubate their creative practice.”
Canty jokingly refers to herself as a “starving artist,” but says she isn’t just sharing her art for monetary gain. She said she wants to thrive as an artist, but that doesn’t necessarily mean financially.
“I want to be able to thrive and become a part of the changes, by making those changes into positives by the best way I know how—through my art,” she said.
(Samson X Horne is a contributing writer to the New Pittsburgh Courier. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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