Meet Ajuan Mance: Artist and English Professor of African American Literature.

We came across Ajuan and her work at Oakland Book Festival, where she asked Karl to be a part of her project, 1001 Black Men (which, we later found out, has gotten buzz on Buzzfeed and BET.)

Her goal? To create 1,001 drawings of African American men in roughly 1,001 days.


We knew we had to build with this woman on what makes her tick. So, we set up some time to sit down and talk to her about her creative process from photo to sketchbook as she approaches piece #840 of 1001. Just before shooting the interview, we ran into a cute, happy, father-and-son duo with their bikes on the block, who agreed to let Mance photograph them as her next subjects for the project. We then watched mesmerized as she transformed the photo into a fresh new drawing. Smooth.

She explains a little philosophy behind her project: “I’d like to see if I can kind of celebrate men but see them a little more broadly— less of a focus on the very wealthy, the very traditionally-attractive, the very sucessful… and more of a focus on the every day black men. I feel like that’s the sort of celebration I’d like to create.”

Now THATS the type of celebration we’re about. #TURNUP!

Be sure to keep up with her drawings as the documentation of 1001 Black Men continues:

#BuildingWith is a series of interviews where we politik with artists of color around the country and document their unique and nuanced experiences and perspectives on life, love, and creation.

#minidoc by Openi & Karl
sounds by 7thsoul