Lauryn Hill’s “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” is an undisputed classic, and artist Imani Shanklin Robert leans on Hill’s timeless work in her latest collection, “Still Miseducated,” 10 original paintings inspired by the lyrics of the album on display at Bushwick’s Studio 301.
Hill’s album was released in 1999, but its themes of love, courage, heartbreak, and social justice remain relevant today — are beautifully portrayed in Roberts’ paintings. The rising artist premiered her collection in a one-day-only art exhibit Sunday, Aug. 30 at the art warehouse located on Ten Eyck Street between Maujer and Meadow Streets.
The canvases ranged in size and included framed lyrics posted next to, pulling a poignant point or popular line from the corresponding track.
“The songs inspired each piece,” Roberts explained. “It was important for people to understand the inspiration and pull excerpts from the song that really corresponded with each piece.”
And viewers agreed it was a good idea.
“The paintings are powerful on their own but to see a lyric that you recognize attached to the image it gives you that jolt in the chest a little bit — especially if you recognize it,” said Naomi Washington, a childhood friend of Roberts. “It gives you that moment of thinking and healing all at one time.”
Originally from Washington, D.C. and first-generation Jamaican American, Roberts expressed an immense gratitude to a large crowd comfortably packed gallery.
Making her mark in the New York art scene, Roberts could not have asked for a better turnout.
“Showing your work in New York is just so intimidating and everyone is so critical but you guys have been very accepting,” Roberts told the crowd.
Patrons enjoyed passed sweets courtesy of Chef Isaiah Kelsey as well as red and white sangria. Guests were encouraged to become apart of the exhibit through an interactive piece; a painting of Lauryn Hill. Filling in her hair with colorful chalk phrases, inspirational words and abstract shadings.
“It was important for me to have collaboration beyond me presenting this work as a vessel; for people to write or do a little drawing to show how the album impacted them,” Roberts said.
“I did a little pastel heart. It’s always nice to leave something besides commentary or a hug or love. I think it adds a sense of community to be apart of a piece especially because it is of Lauryn herself,” Washington said.
“Still Miseducated” featured performances by lyricist Saba Jenga with sounds maintained by DJ Anna Collecta — proving itself to be a full-circle creative event.
Roberts’ canvases and glossy prints will be available for purchase on her website.
“It’s important for me and my process to upload my work after the show. Now that it’s out I want to upload everything and put it out into the world,” she said.
Copies of Imani Shanklin Roberts’ “Still Miseducated” paintings are available for purchase at www.imani