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Olympia's Maid Returns



This piece was a part of a series where I take well-known western paintings to recontextualize and repaint. I was looking at Olympia by Manet. For research, I read Olympia’s maid by Lorraine O’Grady.  I was heavily considering the notion of reclaiming black subjectivity in this piece. The submissive and invisible maid in "Olympia" by Manet is one of the seldom and most pervasive depictions of Black women from pre-contemporary eras.  The dichotomy of the representation of a Black woman has been either a Jezebel or mammy type figure. In this recreation of Olympia’, there is an inversion of the roles and the maid becomes Olympia. Although the traditional Olympia lounges nude, I had opted to have her clothed. I also opted to change the maid to a male because I think these paintings very much cater to the white male gaze. I’ve strayed away from the notion that Olympia's maid is one of the plethora of naked, lounging venuses that gratify the gaze of white male audiences. Instead she dominates the space, taking charge over those who diminish her. 


Amuri is a contemporary realist, inspired by the classical realism of still life and portraiture. She is currently studying painting at Virginia Commonwealth University and spent years spent honing her artistic skills, and studying techniques of past and contemporary artists. She aims to promote diversity in art canon, specifically focusing on the Black experience. One of her main goals is to promote community engagement in the arts and better the community.