We all know that Black History Month traditionally celebrates and honors African American accomplishments with a focus on the past. Knowing one’s history is important but celebrating the here and now keeps things moving forward. Artist Charly Palmer shares with us how he manages to do both. McDonald’s has selected Palmer to feature his art in their restaurants during the month of February. Below is an excerpt from our conversation on his accomplishments, inspirations and contributions to society.
365BLACK.COM: Overall, we’d like to know what inspires you. Who were some of you’re influences?
PALMER: People, landscapes and colors are my inspiration. God and love is an inspiration.
365BLACK.COM: Tell us about your art education?
PALMER: I attended School of the Art Institute of Chicago for two years. I graduated from the American Academy of Art in Chicago.
365BLACK.COM: What do you consider is your role in our society? Does your art contribute to society and the African American community?
PALMER: I have considered myself a visual historian and storyteller. My focus is our story. My work is a reminder of where Black folk came from.
365BLACK.COM: What advice can you share with aspiring young artists?
PALMER: The most important thing that I would say is find your voice. We all have influences, but how are you different?
365BLACK.COM: What lies ahead for Charly Palmer in 2014?
PALMER: My joy is creating art. I’m working on a group show at the Schoenberg Museum in Harlem, NY exhibiting at the Stella Jones Gallery in New Orleans, LA and doing a major show in Miami, FL in December.
365BLACK.COM: Why did you decide to work with McDonald’s? What inspiration led to the creation of this artwork for McDonald’s?
PALMER: Truth be told, I didn’t choose McDonald’s. They chose me. It was truly a pleasure working with them. They set me free to create what I do. The way I do it. I had a lot of fun. There were some guidelines but I was asked to creatively interpret “Here To Make History.”
365BLACK.COM: What does “Here to Make History” mean to you? What do you hope people, whether young or old, will take away from the piece?
PALMER: It is a celebration of confident power claiming the future. The value of taking charge of your future.
We were very excited about this year’s partnership with Charly Palmer and look forward to what’s to come during the month of February and beyond. For more information, follow @McDonalds on Twitter and join the conversation using #McDonalds. Also visit us on Facebook, and check back for future updates.