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Natchez artist tells stories through painting, artwork

Loraine Griffin’s black and white painting on display at the Natchez Visitor Reception Center portrays the story of African Americans from the beginning of slavery until now. (Devonte Demby / The Natchez Democrat)

Loraine Griffin’s black and white painting on display at the Natchez Visitor Reception Center portrays the story of African Americans from the beginning of slavery until now. (Devonte Demby / The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — From slavery to the first African American president, Loraine Griffin wants to tell the story of African Americans.

Griffin tells this story by doing what she loves, painting.

“It’s a story from the beginning to now,” Griffin said.

The Adams County Welcome Center, located in the Natchez Visitor Reception Center, is currently displaying African American art and history exhibits throughout the month of February.

Griffin’s black and white painting of African American history first depicts a set of hands shackled in chains —the viewer will then see an illustration of race riots, which took place during the Civil Rights Movement.

Finally, in the upper right hand side of the painting lies Martin Luther King Jr., who is not far from President Barack Obama, who sits in the upper left hand corner of the painting.

Griffin said she painted the picture in black and white to represent the truth.

“Black and white is more natural,” Griffin said. “It gives it that realistic pop.”

Griffin began painting at the early age of 3 after watching her artistic cousin.

The Natchez resident participates with the Natchez Art Association, which is located on Main Street in downtown Natchez.

The Natchez Art Association, similar to home, is a place where she can be herself and use her gifts to escape from the world.

“It’s my transportation out of the world. It’s my relaxation,” Griffin said. “When I start painting I forget everything and everybody.”

Along with her centerpiece hanging in the visitor center, Griffin has several more paintings, which she painted from various photographs by depicting separation between blacks and whites long ago.

“When we would try to go somewhere, there were signs separating us from things such as water fountains,” Griffin said while pointing to a painting of a black only and white only water fountain.

I’m glad that isn’t an issue today, Griffin said.

No matter what Griffin paints, she never knows how it’s going to turn out.

“I love the reaction of people when they see my work,” Griffin said. “I love what it projects because everybody sees something different.”

Griffin said she decided to display her art during Black History Month because there are many people who don’t know the history.

The exhibits can be seen from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.