Artist Manzel Bowman: Illustrating Us Black to the Future
Contemporary Art Meets Afrofuturism
An Essay by Rachelle "Analog LUST" Luster
Admiring the cover art for Hip Hop Artist David Banner’s album, “The God Box” is what lead me to digital artist Manzel Bowman. The album cover is a silhouette of David Banner’s head filled with a galaxy. The cover designed by Manzel Bowman represents Banner’s awakening and newfound enlightenment as an artist and individual.Banner has admitted his feelings of guilt about his past lyrical content and video imagery. He has since matured, taken a new direction and is determined to empower and educate his community through his music. The album cover art signifies not only David Banner’s growth, but also a wave of socially and spiritually aware Black creators. This genre of creators are going against the grain of pop culture, materialism and the glorification of violence and becoming more in tune with “knowledge of self” and the empowerment of Black culture.
Insert Amityville, NY native Manzel Bowman also known as ArtXMan across social media platforms. Bowman’s futuristic artwork is an intersection of African royalty, Egyptian deities, Black culture, science fiction and metaphysical imagery. Bowman produces vector art from a digital medium. Although he can create from other platforms, with there being such a rise in demand for digital artwork, this medium enables him to work fast and effectively. He describes this form of illustration as painting on a digital canvas. With a laptop as his canvas, software as his paintbrush, and Instagram as his gallery, Bowman is one of the artists challenging the customary models of art creation and display.
The inspiration for Bowman’s work is “everything from nature to the effable.” Bowman’s reoccurring images of African people, sci-fi and mysticism contribute to a rising genre of art called Afrofuturism. Afrofuturistic art has been around since the late 1950’s but the term Afrofuturism was coined in 1993 by Mark Dery. Afrofuturism is the cross-cultural philosophy of artist, musicians, and writers who draw on futuristic energy, sci-fi and mythology to escape the sometimes dystopian reality of melanated communities in the United States. This art expression has become important to liberating the mindset of people of color. Through this form of art, we are reminded that we are more than the negative narrative that is depicted of us in American media. Bowman’s art informs people of African descent that, “we have our own religion, beliefs and deities that have been removed from us over the span of history.”
Bowman’s art pieces are memorizing layers of design and detail. Something different can be seen each time viewing the same image. Upon viewing Bowman’s Instagram page which serves as his own modern day art gallery, I immediately fell into a trance. Image after image of stunning creations intersecting the beauty and richness of Black culture and science fiction, two things I am completely in love with. Manzel Bowman is making a bold impact and a name for himself in the art world very quickly with the help of social media. In addition to his stand-alone art pieces, his imagery can be found on clothing,accessories and of course the album covers of socially and spiritually aware artist. Manzel Bowman wants to be remembered for his creativity and made immortal through his artwork.
To view more of his work, visit:
Manzel Bowman’s Website: http://manzel.biz
Manzel Bowman’s IG: @artxman
“The God Box Album Cover Art”, The Hood Hippie, 2015
“Get to Know: Manzel Bowman”, Talent House, 2016
Rachelle "Analog LUST" Luster is a Hip Hop Artist, Producer and Creator of Analog Dope. She holds an Associate of Science Degree in Music Production from The Los Angeles Film School in Hollywood and is currently working towards her Bachelor of Science in Entertainment Business.