Artist strives to promote positive, different image


Emory Biko’s mother was more dependable than Maytag.

He remembers when she would say that he… Emory Biko’s mother was more dependable than Maytag.

He remembers when she would say that he needed to work hard at whatever he did.

“This life thing is not easy. You must work hard,” Biko recalled her saying.

Biko did work hard, and decided to become an artist. He does paint, but he doesn’t just create with a brush; he uses wood, metal and even fabric.

“It was a challenge,” Biko said. “Someone told me I couldn’t be an artist because I couldn’t draw.”

Biko met with students and admirers yesterday in the Conney M. Kimbo Gallery on the main floor of the William Pitt Union.

He said that his art is there to promote a positive image of black people and “to show the importance of an education and to stay away from drugs.”

“The most important thing for me is to help some kids,” Biko said. “So they don’t make the same mistakes that I did, or a lot of others did.”

One painting, “Eazy Come, Eazy Go,” shows a likeness of the rapper Eazy-E, who died of complications from AIDS at the age of 31.

A papier-mache version of his mother washing clothes accompanies several short stories about Biko’s childhood and his relationship with his mother.

It recounts her early symptoms of Alzheimer’s, beginning around Thanksgiving of 1997, until her eventual death on Dec. 29, 2000.

Also on prominent display is the robe of a Ku Klux Klan grand wizard that Biko said he bought from a man in a McDonald’s parking lot north of Pittsburgh.

Biko said that the man originally wanted $3,000, but after a few weeks the man called Biko back with a much lower offer. Biko drove to meet him and ended up paying $180 for the robe.

Biko recalled the man becoming excited and he offered Biko the opportunity to buy more from “A good ol’ boy” down south.

“Don’t worry, he don’t go out and kill black folks and such as that,” Biko recalled the man saying.

Aisha Shabazz, a junior and Pitt Program Council art director, said that a lot of people who visited the exhibit told her they learned a lot.

“It brings it in front of their face and says that people did think this about African-Americans in the United States,” Shabazz said.