Ganga Zumbi Legend

This series is based on the legend of Ganga Zumbi, which occurred during the Transatlantic slave trade. Ganga Zumbi was the general of Queen Nzinga’s army in Angola. Queen Nzinga fought for many years to prevent the Portuguese from overtaking her nation. As the Portuguese fought they began to make headway and started capturing some of the Angolan people. Legend states that the Queen told Ganga Zumbi to allow himself to be captured and enslaved, so that he could free his fellow countrymen. He followed orders and slowly began to free the captured. They slowly built their own army in the jungles of Brazil. They built communities in the rain forest and painted their faces to ward off their enemies. The faces in this series are tribute to Ganga Zumbi and his army. It is said that Ganga Zumbi was never captured and to this day is freeing oppressed people around the world. 


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15 Things You Did Not Know About ZuCot Gallery

Did you know any of these facts? 

1.All three Partners have degrees in engineering, but fine art was their calling.

2.  Aaron F. Henderson is an artist at ZuCot Gallery and Onaje and Omari’s dad.

3. Aaron F. Henderson also has a degree in engineering.  

4. Gallery Manager, Mariah Heilpern, has a degree in art history. 


 5. Charlotte Riley-Webb, is also an award wining children’s book illustrator. 

6. Charly Palmer designed one of the posters for the 1996 Olympics here in Atlanta.

7. Jerry Lynn has a twin, named Terry Lynn – they have created art together and separately. 

8. Julio Mejia likes to call himself an alchemist of color – if he feels the color is not right he will use chemicals to erode, or change the color, which brings out many more shades. 


9. It takes 120 individual lights to light up the gallery and illuminate the fine art we hang. 

10. We have helped to open the minds of over 3,000 children who come through ZuCot Gallery to learn more about art, culture, and creativity (and continue to do so). 

11. We have helped 10 college students gain experience and college credits through our internship program. 

12. We have worked with more than 10 large companies to help diversify their art plus help talk about diversity and art in their company meetings – both held at the gallery or their own offices. 

13. We have had one proposal and three Weddings held at ZuCot Gallery.

14. There have been numerous events held at the gallery – from baby showers to record label music listenings.

15. We are the Largest African-American Gallery in the South East!

ZuCot Gallery Image


78-1335B by Charly Palmer

78-1335B78-1335B assuages the America’s fetish with dominion over black male bodies, for their own ego and subsistence. Prison labor is contemporary slavery in the most undermining way. The 13th amendment reinforces this idea—it eradicates chattel slavery and all involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime. The number 7 and 8 represent the months July and August—murderous months for Alton Sterling; Philando Castille; Delrawn Smalls; Eric Garner; Mike Brown; Yusuf Hawkins; Emmit Till; and a not-guilty verdict in the death of Trayvon Martin. The number 13 stresses not only the 13th amendment, but also the 13% African-American population of which makes up 35% percent of the national prison population of which are Black male—hence inmate number 78-1335B is a codification of this twisted reality. There is no coincidence in prison labor vis-a-vis slavery and Black male extermination. Numbers do not lie.

Written by Ida Harris for Charly Palmer. 

Charly Palmer, 78-1335B, 36″ x 18″, Acrylic on Canvas, $4,200.00

New to ZuCot Gallery – Artist Jamaal Barber

Jamaal Barber is a printmaker from Littleton, North Carolina. Although he admittedly hasn’t grasped the art of making fried chicken yet, he has repeatedly showcased his ability to conceptualize and skillfully create meaningful and powerful works of art. Barber recently sat down with us at ZuCot Gallery to discuss his process of creating, his responsibility as an artist, and his everyday life as a husband and father.

GG – Grace Gardner (Summer Intern at ZuCot Gallery),  JB- Jamaal Barber (Artist)

GG: What is your sign?

JB: I’m a Taurus.


GG: What’s your favorite food?

JB: Oh man, what is my favorite food. I’m gonna say fried chicken.


GG: What do you like to do for fun?

JB: Make art and do printing.


GG: Who is your favorite artist?

JB: I don’t have one favorite artist because I take different things from different people. Romare Bearden means the most to me because I read his book and he talked to me. What [artists are] saying to me is important. Charles White and David Driscoll, they say something to me. When I see their work I feel it.


GG: What responsibility, if any do you place on yourself as an artist, but more specifically as a Black artist?

JB: That’s an interesting question because I’ve been grasping with that for a while. For me as an artist it’s hard for me to do innocuous art. By innocuous I mean cows, horses … just random puppies in the window. I can’t do that kind of work. It doesn’t interest me. Only when I start to say something, express something does the work start to flow and become interesting to me. And I think that’s a function. When I started drawing, I did it as a way to express myself. So now, I’ve been doing it so long, it’s pretty much the only way that I know I can express myself. So now it’s developed to the point where I can’t say what I’m feeling. I have to make a piece about it. I see all art through my own experience. Using that as my experience, I think it’s imperative that me as a Black artist especially I’m saying something about the world that we’re living in especially when stuff is happening that’s affecting us, that’s killing us – stuff that’s happening in the community because even my Hood Politics series—it’s about other things, but it’s also about us. It’s not just I gotta talk about our ears. … I’m speaking to all of it and I have to as an artist. I can’t sit back with all of this stuff going on and paint butterflies. It’s like I can’t do it because it’s not true. If my art is an expression of myself, it can’t be flowers in a window cuz that’s not me. That’s not my world. That’s not what I live. I have to speak to it. You know, but I know every artist is not like that so I don’t put that burden on all of them, but I think it’s a noble pursuit of art. It’s a good way to use your talents—to say these things, to make statements, to provoke people into thought, but it’s not necessary. Don’t think that just because I’m making all of these huge social statements that you have to make the social statements. No you can paint flowers if you want to. I may not be into it. […] When I see a piece that’s talking about Hurricane Katrina, about Black identity… that is interesting to me. I’m drawn to that as Jamaal, the individual. You can like whatever you like, but I know my function when I come to my art and I know when I sit down, if I’m not saying anything nothing comes out. I’ll sit there with a blank board […] and nothing will come out. You just gotta know your function. You gotta know what works for you.


GG: As a professional artist, do you ever find yourself in a place of conflict between wanting to make a living off of your work or making art that sells quickly, but isn’t work that you want to make for yourself or work that allows you to fully express yourself in the ways that you want to express yourself?

JB: Yeah that’s the constant part. Every time I sit down I think, “Who’s going to buy this?”

GG: How do you navigate between creating something where you’re allowed to fully express yourself and share your thoughts, ideas, and reflections on the current state of the world, but also…

JB: I don’t. See that’s the thing. For me, you gotta do what works for you. I’ve tried to do other things. It never works for me. So my focus has to come from not just doing the art that I like, but executing it – You execute it on such a high level, to the best of your abilities, that people can’t walk by it. That’s basically my solution to that issue: Do it better than I’ve ever done anything before. … The only way I can mentally deal with the stress of “maybe this isn’t going to sell” is for me to say to myself, “Jamaal, you have to make this the greatest piece you’ve ever done” every single time.


GG: What advice do you have for those pursuing a career in art or for those who just simply want to create?

JB: I tell everyone focus on the work. If your work is not good and you don’t develop a habit of creation, it doesn’t matter how you brand yourself. Does [your] work build a career meant to sustain itself – meant to evolve? Always keep the art first because the art leads to everything else.


GG: What is the most important thing you feel the world should know about Jamaal Barber, the artist and/or printmaker?

JB: I put it in the art. Everything you need to know about me, I put it in the art.


Why Black Art Matters

Black art matters. Each stroke of a paintbrush on canvas, sculpting of clay on a potter’s wheel, piece of stone that is chiseled, carved, and filed away from a larger block of stone for a sculpture, print that is drawn, etched or cut by a printmaker, have implications that go beyond the act of simply creating a product to be viewed or sold. Black artists and their art literally and metaphorically question a history of visibility, or rather, a history of invisibility. Black art removes the veil of invisibility that was placed on it due its possession of Blackness and reasserts itself as something that is worthy not only of visibility, but also meaning, acknowledgement, acceptance, and praise.

The existence and creation of Black art makes room for additional forms of representation. When Tamara Natalie Madden uses deep blues, blacks and purples to paint rich and dark-complexioned subjects in a way that conveys an inherent regality and beauty, those looking at the paintings, especially those with dark skin, are able to situate themselves within the paintings and find that they possess those same traits. Charlotte Riley-Webb’s abstract masterpieces highlight the intentionality, technicality, and talent that rest within Black hands. Lobyn Hamilton’s vinyl creations show that one’s frustration can lead to something that is both meaningful and valuable.

Black art also gives those who engage with it insight into the complexities of Black experiences, cultures, and history. Sean Haynes’ acrylic on wood piece titled Making Moves, for example, presents the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in an interesting way. While one might look at it and only notice the silhouettes and appreciate Haynes’ use of bright colors, they might not realize that Haynes is actually using his art to speak about the displacement of thousands of people because of the hurricane. Although Making Moves is an aesthetically beautiful piece, Haynes uses his position as an artist to highlight and allow room for the discussion of the larger issue of displacement that unfortunately hasn’t received the attention it deserves. Similarly, in his Negro Spirituals series of paintings, Aaron Henderson invites viewers to reflect on the violent history of slavery, racism, and white supremacy and the ways that they informed the Negro Spirituals that were sung centuries ago and still remain with us today. Artists like Haynes and Henderson effortlessly situate us in the past as a means of helping us to better understand and navigate through our present. The events, experiences, and histories that are interwoven into Black art provide viewers with a unique opportunity to learn more about Blackness, Black cultures, and Black history.

There is a certain level of diversity attached to the work of Black artists that allows us to reimagine the possibilities of fine art. If we are going to praise Vincent Van Gogh, Edgar Degas, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Georgia O’Keefe, and Jackson Pollack for their contribution to fine art, then we must also recognize, appreciate and praise Black artists like Aaron Henderson, Jerry Lynn, Charly Palmer, Georgette Baker, and E. Richard Clark.

We are constantly encouraging those who come to ZuCot to buy something that means something. Black art means something, and just like Black lives, Black art matters.

In Hopes Their Legacy Lives On: Behind ‘Future Hendrix’ Created by Lobyn

Future HendrixThis summer at Zucot Gallery we are featuring a number of artists in our Spring Palette Cleanse including Indianapolis based artist Lobyn Hamilton. Known as “The Vinyl Record Artist”, Lobyn is famous for his portrayals of black women or artists from shards of broken records. Images of popular artists, such as Lauryn Hill, Billy Holiday, and Marvin Gaye have been immortalized in Lobyn’s art with the medium being their own music. One of the more unique pieces we have, Future Hendrix, pays homage to two music artists at the same time. As one can guess by the title the two subjects of the work are the iconic singer, songwriter, and guitarist Jimi Hendrix and the more recent, yet also iconic trap rapper Future; the portrait emulating a classic photo of Hendrix while the medium contains shards of Future’s third album Dirty Sprite 2.

Due to Future and Jimi Hendrix’s division in era, genre, and audience it is rare to see them together in any context which adds to the anomaly of the piece. Lobyn’s hint to both of their drug usages in the purple color adds just enough history and ingenuity to complete the parallel between the two artists. One of Hendrix’s singles from 1967, “Purple Haze” was described as “a potpourri of ideas” by biographer Keith Shadwick[1], however, it never directly mentions or clearly alludes to drugs. Though, as pointed out by Harry Shapiro[2], it would have been “professional suicide” to do so in 1967 so the speculations that Purple Haze is influenced by Hendrix’s drug use can be credited to his audience. But with lines like “Excuse me while I kiss the sky” and “Don’t know if I’m coming up or down” can we blame them?

Future’s music tells a much less cryptic story. With the progression and development of music from 1967 to 2015, censorship in the American media has become significantly more lenient, artists’ content has become more explicit, and the public has acquired a taste for more “real” lyricism. For example, the album that Lobyn used to create Future Hendrix is called Dirty Sprite 2, which is as direct of a title Future could have used to reference the narcotic lean without titling the album “Lean: a concoction of promethazine, codeine cough syrup, Sprite, and occasionally Jolly Ranchers”. Commonly, lean is purple because it is made with Codeine. This is where the nick name “purple drank” comes from and what makes the deep purple color of Future Hendrix so appropriate.

It may seem like a stretch to compare the late rock n’ roll legend to a recent artist of such a new genre as Trap, but Lobyn was not the first to make the comparison. “Future Hendrix” is actually a term that has been around for the past couple of years ever since a meme appeared on the internet proposing the idea that trap trio Migos may be better than the Beatles. This prompted Off-set, a member of the Migos, to ask “Why wouldn’t [Y.R.N] be better that The Beatles?” in a Rolling Stone Interview[3]. This developed into the Migos being dubbed “The New Beatles” by fans who thought that they were. Around this same time trap fans began to juxtapose other trap artists to rock legends and, in result, Future’s career was compared to Jimi Hendrix’s. Hence: Future Hendrix, a name Future has openly accepted.

With a combination of Lobyn’s masterful use of a non-traditional medium, the legendary status of Future and Jimi Hendrix; and the deep, velvety purple color of the piece, Future Hendrix would be a unique addition to anyone’s art collection—or a great start to one! We encourage Lobyn Hamilton fans, Future fans, Jimi Hendrix fans, vinyl record enthusiasts, DJ’s and producers, or even collectors of African American to come into the gallery to see the magnificence of this piece and other Lobyn pieces in person.

  • Written by Camille Ragland 

[1] Shadwick, Keith (2003). Jimi Hendrix: Musician. Backbeat Books. ISBN 0-87930-764-1.

[2] Shapiro, Harry; Glebbeek, Cesar (1990). Jimi Hendrix: Electric Gypsy. St. Martin’s Press. ISBN 0-312-05861-6.

[3] Murray, Nick. (2016) “Migos Prep New LP: ‘Why Wouldn’t It Be Better Than The Beatles'” Rolling Stone.

Art Fact Friday- Afrofuturism

Art Fact Friday: Afrofuturism is a literary and cultural aesthetic that combines elements of science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, Afrocentricity, and magic realism with non-Western cosmologies in order to critique not only the present-day dilemmas of the people of color, but to revise, interrogate and re-examine the historical events of the past. Aaron F. Henderson uses Afrofuturism as inspiration in his series of “Bajoomian Thiakaba’’ (spirit walker)

 Aaron F. Henderson, Tatam -Ba, Gouache on Paper.

0732 TATAM BA 15x41

Art Fact Friday: Fine Fabrics in Fine Art

Art Fact Friday: Tamara Natalie Madden’s fine art is mixed media; with scraps of fabric applied to the canvas as well as paint. Madden gathers the fabric from her Godmother, a designer, who uses fabrics from all over the world. She also collects fabric from her own travels. Madden applies the collected fabrics very purposefully: referencing the history of quilting in the Caribbean, African, and African-American culture. The fabrics are also considered in many places of the world to represent wealth and royalty of those who wear them; elevating the subjects of her paintings from everyday people to the rich beautiful souls which she sees them as.


Art Fact Friday – Birds

Art Fact Friday: Ever wonder about the birds you see in most of Tamara Natalie Madden’s work? She was able to overcome a rare kidney disease with a successful transplant, and the birds in her fine art represent her freedom from the disease. Learn more at the Artist Talk tomorrow, 1pm-3pm!
Tamara Natalie Madden’s, The Light Within.

Tamara Natalie Madden, The Light Within