Love and Legacy: Dr. Herman A. Barnett III
Tuskegee Airman, 332nd Fighter Group
Maya Imani Watson
Acrylic on denim
On loan by The Barnett and Haney Family
This hand painted denim jacket honors the love and legacy of Dr. Herman A. Barnett III. It rocked the runway in June of 2021, at Booker T. Washington High School and the High School for Engineering Professions, during The Denim Stroll and Skate Party. This fashion style presentation was the culmination of an art project Watson conceptualized and decided to share with her young scholars to spark creativity and inspiration during the Pandemic. Students learned about the contributions of African Americans, denim upcycling and African textiles. Watson developed a full day of arts empowerment activities and students expanded their knowledge of art and cultural history. Students learned about the meaning of the lotus flower, African culture and textiles. Students participated in an online arts interactive in which they engaged in a conversation with Tyrone Dixon about bringing your dreams to life; Dixon is the director of the Television Station at Texas Southern University and assistant director of the movie Roll Bounce. The project culminated in a unique opportunity to “stroll through history” as educators and students rocked the runway during the fashion show. Students and staff were captivated by the guided Q & A of the movie “RollBounce” curated by Tyrone Dixon; students discovered behind the scenes details about the making of the movie and what it takes to overcome life’s challenges to realize a dream. Students and educators rocked the runway to Watson’s Denim Stroll Poem over African Drums; the poem was delivered by Watson and several educators and administrators. Students learned new moves during the Roller Skating Party hosted by Instagram sensation Daisies & Pancakes. The Denim Stroll officially debuted original denim designs by Watson, her students and BTW alumni, Margienell Bailey, Class of 1965.
This denim jacket is one of many original denim designs painted to illustrate Watson’s poem: “The Denim Stroll .” It has a deeper significance in respect to documenting cultural history. Mrs. Wylma A. Barnett, wife of Dr. Herman A. Barnett III and retired Biology Professor from Texas Southern University would often share stories about her upbringing and her journey with Watson. She spoke at length about her love of theatre and how life changed when she met and fell in love with Dr. Barnett. She spoke about the many things he overcame to become a doctor and how he was one of the Tuskegee Airmen. It is one thing to read about history or watch it on television, it is another thing to hear a first hand account, or oral history. The question Watson often poses to her students is “Whose responsibility is it to tell your story ?” Love and Legacy honors the life and extraordinary journey of a man who had a profound love for his family and a burning desire to improve the lives of those in his community through medicine. Born January 22, 1926, Barnett dreamed of becoming a doctor from a young age. After graduating from high school, he enlisted in the army and trained to be a combat pilot during the height of World War II. Barnett was honorably discharged in 1946 without seeing combat. When he returned to Texas, he began the remarkable journey of becoming the first African American to graduate from UTMB. We take for granted the opportunities afforded to us today to sit in diverse institutions and pursue our dreams. Barnett broke the color barrier when he became the first African American to attend. Barnett had the support of the NAACP and many other organizations as they challenged segregation. He often had to sit outside of his classroom. Despite the many injustices he faced, Barnett persisted and graduated Cum Laude. He went on to become an accomplished business man, being a part of many professional organizations and becoming the first African American to serve on the Houston Independent School District Board. Barnett also co-founded an African American flying club called “The Bronze Eagles Flying Club. Every year during Memorial Day they would host an annual flight exhibition with fellow African American clubs. On May 27, 1973, Dr. Barnett was flying in this exhibition and got caught in the cross winds. His plane crashed and a tremendous soul got his heavenly wings. Barnett is survived by his loving wife, Wylma Lynn and five children. Did you know Barnett Stadium is named after Dr. Barnett? To learn more about the extraordinary life of Dr. Barnett please check out the links below:
James 3:18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness.
Our Mother used to say don’t mess with my plants or my children. She encouraged us to follow our heart. July is always a full month for me because it marks the anniversary of her transition. Her love for gardening and family is echoed in my work. I pay homage to her legacy of love in seeking and capturing the beauty I see in the world. Perhaps the most important gardens are the mental gardens we cultivate in our life process. Our personal spiritual journey illuminates our path.
When we are operating in our gifts we are essentially planting seeds of peace in the world. When we truly lean into our gifts and talents and have the courage to share them, we become beacons of light. Our father used to say that we may never truly know the people whose lives are transformed by our journey, but we have a responsibility to work at being our best selves. What an amazing place the world will be when each person chooses to honor the gifts they have been given, becoming the dynamic people that God calls them to be. In seeking God’s plan for our lives we become children of light in a dark and fallen world.
For me, being rooted in the word of God has had transformative power. As both my parents have transitioned I see the significance of telling our stories and sharing our cultural memories. They become the fabric of our society and a guide for future generations.
Purple Reign: Prince Tribute Paintings will be on display in the Glam Gallery, June 7,2019 at Le Chateau. This year Watson will incorporate a more interactive approach to this annual celebration by Craig Alexander by hosting a PAINT PARTY SOCIAL dedicated to the life and work of Prince. Creatives and other guests will have an opportunity to connect with the artist as well as experience the VIP Glam Gallery. Watson is scheduled to paint a live painting during the event as well. Patrons interested in the artists artwork may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Purple Reign | A ROYAL TRIBUTE to PRINCE
presents GLAM GALLERY featuring:
The Artist,The Gift and His Music
Select works on display by Maya Imani Watson
on June 7, 2019, Le Chateau will be the backdrop for the official annual Prince Day. This celebration of the life of Prince Rogers Nelson was started by business mogul, Craig Alexander who sought after and secured an official Proclamation from Mayor Slyvester Turner designating June 7th as Prince Rogers Nelson Day. This amazing evening presents an amalgamation of creative sensibilities including a PAINT PARTY SOCIAL with featured artist, Maya Imani Watson, the VIP Glam Gallery and a live “Painting of a Prince” to be completed by the Houston artist as well.
Watson painted the painting, The Artist, The Gift and His Music live during the 2016 Prince Tribute event. At first glance, bright colors and bold brush strokes stretch across the canvas. A visual explosion settles into a mediation series and leaves the viewer to contemplate the auditory genius of Prince through the visual interpretation of this visual artist...beauty through the senses. Says Watson, “ I was struck by the spiritual journey of Prince through his music. He sought to use his gifts to his highest abilities. Blazing his own path, the music and life of Prince are an inspiration to us all.” Viewers will enjoy this multi-sensory experience by Watson and the many other creatives that will showcase their talents. Creatives are encouraged to check out PrinceDayHou.com for the full lineup of DJS, performers, tattoo artists and body art that will be presented. Art lovers, collectors and those who have a creative spirit can see more of Watson’s art at www.MayaImaniWatson.com. Watson’s PAINT PARTY SOCIAL is completely mobile. Register for the summer painting party series.
For more information on the annual Prince Tribute contact: Craig Alexander
Get Tickets/Register to paint: www.princedayhou2019.eventbrite.com
Exhibited at Gage Lounge“I continue to be inspired by Prince and the way in which he embraced his gifts. Prince would worship openly in concerts and throughout his music. He wanted people to be inspired as well as enlightened. I offer these paintings in honor of our Purple Prince. I know God is getting one am
On June 7, 2016, Houston celebrated the artistic genius of Prince Rogers Nelson in grand fashion. Live music, prince impersonators, body art, spoken word and live painting filled Gage Lounge with an explosion of creativity. This painting was done during the tribute. It's bold colors speak to the dynamic reach of Prince's music. Join the artist, Maya Imani Watson for the Saturday Paint Party Social Series. Unleash your creativity this summer by taking part in guided, adult painting classes.
Original Artwork by
Maya Imani Watson
The World’s Coolest Traveling Art Museum
Acrylic on canvas
Contact the artist for original paintings,
portraits and painting parties.
RAW ARTISTS SHOWCASE | HOUSE OF BLUES | Photo Gallery | May 2019
Invalid Displayed Gallery
The WABC Visual Arts Ministry presents
MEDITATING IN HIS TEMPLE
The Art of Maya Imani Watson
The World's Coolest Traveling Art Museum
On View at Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church through April 27, 2016
Art for me is an act of worship. It is a gift from God. The artistic process is meditation; the final product represents the manifestation of the gift which can be shared with humanity. The path of an artist is a journey, a pilgrimage. Each stroke of the brush is like an act of faith: confidence in something believed but not yet seen. The sharing with others is like an offering. It is the planting of seeds. Art is necessary, like breathing. It gives as well as sustains life. In this way it becomes divine. As the journey unfolds, the art evolves.
Pastor Cosby D. Cosby, spoke about presenting ourselves as a living sacrifice unto the Lord. I am humbled by the life of Pastor Emeritus, Reverend William A. Lawson and the fruit his obedience to God has beared as a result of him presenting himself and his life as a living sacrifice. My life’s journey has been about seeking after the Lord, meditating in His temple and discovering the vast love He has for me. I was encouraged by a dear friend to come to Wheeler after the passing of my mother. Ove the years the sermons at Wheeler have been an inspiration and a light beyond some of life’s darkest moments. My father would tell people that I was drawing on the walls as a child and my mother always reminded me that my “gifts would make room.” The work presented, selections from my life’s work represent my journey as a Christian and a woman seeking after God. Many of the pieces were inspired by God’s word. I have come to understand that “seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” allows us move through the difficult spaces in life. In the natural there are many challenges that should have destroyed me, and while I may have been devastated or discouraged, God in His infinite mercy has consistently met me at each moment and propelled me forward. Through brush strokes and creamy paint God ushers in peace.
For me, art is that resting place in the Lord, that conversation peace in which He speaks to my heart and brings the calm. It allows me to be focused in the midst of the storms of life. Psalm 104 talks about God being on the wings of the wind. The rainbow colors in my work represent the spirit of God and His covenant with humanity to preserve our souls. The rainbows come after rainstorms. For the believer this is the anchor of the soul. It is the essence of life which propels us forward. It is evidence that we must allow ourselves the space to dream. The blues represent the heavens, the expansive nature of the sky, the possibility of dreams, the baptism. They have emerged in swirls, a universal symbol echoing the light of Christ, the presence of the Holy Spirit, the hope of the future. The butterflies have always been symbolic of the change and transformation that are inevitable in our lives. They speak to the presence of earth angels sent to help us become our best selves. Ultimately, butterflies are a gentle reminder of the fragility of our existence and the fleeting moments that represent a lifetime.
The rainbow colored swirls in my work represent the promise of God to save us and bring us to himself. They remind me of His vast love and the presence of the Holy Spirit. The butterflies have been a constant reminder of the change and transformation that is inevitable in our lives. They acknowledge the angels God sends us to help us become the radiant beams of light He has called us to be. The canvas panels and wooden structures represent the many parts of the body of Christ; they acknowledge that WE are the parts which make up HIS body. They also signify the windows of heaven and the blessings God consistently pours out upon us when we seek after Him through His word.
I had an opportunity to see the Universoul Circus many years ago with my whole family. I was struck by the ringmaster, Casual Cal and his confident declarations of God’s power. The circus continues to be his ministry as he uses the platform of the circus to reinforce faith, family and fun. I see the circus as a metaphor for life: that life is filled to the brim with challenges and excitement, that God orchestrates the events in our lives to bring us to himself and to evolve humanity. But most of all, that we can be Christian, be contemporary and still be cool. At the time it echoed the sentiment in a painting I did called PEACE. FLY. D.I.V.A. : That we could experience God’s peace, that we could be FLY in the most contemporary sense of the word, and that we could be Divinely. Inspired. Visionary. Artists.
The flowers represent the flowering of the spirit. In Psalm 1, the bible talks about us being “planted by the rivers of water.” When we are anchored in the Lord our roots go down deep. We are able to weather the storms of life because we our grounded in God’s love. I pay tribute to my mother, Mary Daniel Watson through the representation of the spider lilies and flowers. I pay tribute to the life, legacy and strength of “Mother” Audrey H. Lawson and those women who plant the seeds peace in our lives which propel us forward.
The Visual Arts Ministry presents
MEDITATING IN HIS TEMPLE
The Art of Maya Imani Watson
The World's Coolest Traveling Art Museum
On View at Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church through April 27, 2016
3826 Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church
Houston, TX 77004
Sponsored by ScottFordConstruction.com and TopNotchTaxes.org
Broad strokes and bright colors moving across multiple canvases are sure to change the gloomiest of moods. Expansive charcoal gray walls of contemporary bar and local hot spot, The Libra Lounge, are exploding with color. LIBRA LOUNGE EXHIBITIONS represents a growing trend of collaborations between artists and mainstream entertainment venues. Daughter of The King: Selected Works of Maya Imani Watson, is the first in a series of exhibitions featuring contemporary artists and musicians. Opening their bar to display the work of local creative talents and a selected resident artist, the owners are excited about the possibilities. The first artist, Maya Imani Watson, has been immersed in the creative field of art her entire life. Her art has been displayed in the Museum of Fine Arts, The University Museum at Texas Southern University, Prairie View A & M, The Houston Public Library, Rice University, Unity Bank and the Houston Area Urban League to name a few.
Watson, has long included butterflies in her work as she feels they are symbolic of change and transformation. In speaking with the artist, you will find that her art work is meditative or like a prayer that bursts forth in a stunning rainbow. Often depicting a story across multiple panels, Watson paints large scale portraits and illustrates prose; both her own and bible. The average onlooker will come in off the street for a cool refreshing drink and leave feeling as if their spirit has been lifted. One viewer described the vibrant wall as “telling a story in color.” Rainbow colored swirls change form and become flowers and butterflies. Each individual painting blends and flows with the others as an extended piece or peace as in the case of the artist work: “ Conversation Peace.” Watson describes the earth angels present in our lives as symbolic of the presence of those God sends to aid us on our journeys. Art is timeless in its ability to inspire, transform and impact lives. This body of work includes older works with more contemporary pieces. “Heroes Among Us,” depicts a father standing with his son. Bright colors speak to the power of God’s presence in our everyday heroes.
“ In the Shelter of His Arms,” towers above you with 12 watercolor panels, and yet viewers are drawn into the open arms filled with an outpouring of flowers. Watson spoke of the spider lilies that emerged the summer after her mother’s transition. She was so moved by their beauty she incorporated them into several paintings, symbolic of the flowering of the spirit and certainly her mother’s love of gardening.
Watson continues to share her lifelong love of art with others through her children’s books, art workshops and classes. She hosts PAINT PARTY SOCIALS at several local venues including, The Libra Lounge and Darwin’s Theory. Check the calendar and register online at: www.MayaImaniWatson.com for upcoming PAINT PARTY SOCIALS.
Watson is an accomplished painter. She is a product of HISD’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. She later received her BA from Mount Holyoke College and attended the MBA/ARTS Administration program at SUNY Binghamton. Watson worked at Texas Southern University for 13 years; teaching in the John Biggers Art Center and the University Museum. She currently teaches art to the young scholars of Booker T. Washington High School.
DAUGHTER OF THE KING
Selected works by Maya Imani Watson
Currently on view at The Libre Lounge
9880 Buffalo Speedway
Houston, Texas 77025