Review: Artist Ronna Pernell's new book showcases collective bond of African American women

·2 min read
 "The Call" by artist Ronna Pernell. [Image provided]
"The Call" by artist Ronna Pernell. [Image provided]

"Unspoken Woman," by Ronna Pernell (54 pages, on sale at https://unspokenwoman.com/)

Ronna Pernell presents the essence of African American women literally and visually in her cocktail table book "Unspoken Woman." The 22 artistic images featured in the book embody the power that reflects the courage, insight and strength of African American women.

With the help of the Oklahoma Arts Council, this collection was originally viewed in a solo exhibition at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

This book celebrates and honors the voices of African American women who have paved the way for greatness. Despite the exceptional character traits exhibited and contributions made by African American women their voices historically have not always been heard. It took the creative expression of Pernell to visually present the voices of women of African descent.

The cover of "Unspoken Women," a new book by artist Ronna Pernell.
The cover of "Unspoken Women," a new book by artist Ronna Pernell.

In the world of numerology, the master number 22 makes the presentation of this cocktail table book significant. This number known as the Master Builder creates something from nothing. Publishing this book in 2022 presents three messages. First, it celebrates Pernell’s journey as a young girl growing up in Oklahoma City with the motivation and encouragement of her high school teacher Judy McGee to develop an interest in art. This talent and skill have escalated to having a career as a professional artist.

Secondly, this artistic body of work is created using stippling as a medium. Images are created by using dots, which in this collection symbolically connects the past to the present. Unlike previous work done by Pernell with black ink on white paper, this presentation and interpretation is different. Every image is presented on gray matte board with white optic ink.

On each page, the reader is given the opportunity to understand the personal and collective relationships that have allowed Pernell’s voice to be heard, as well as the voices of women of African descent.

 "Hidden Mist" by Ronna Pernell is included in her newest book "Unspoken Woman." [Image provided]
"Hidden Mist" by Ronna Pernell is included in her newest book "Unspoken Woman." [Image provided]

The use of stippling connects the composition of the image with the language on each page and helps the reader embrace the impact that the spiritual voices have had on themselves and society.

Finally, the reader can see how Pernell has honored all the relationships that have made her the woman she is today and is empowering the voices of the future to be heard. She is saying "thank you" to her younger self, the grandmothers, mothers, sister friends and the collective bond that exists between African American women.

Celebration, honor and empowerment are the three major themes in the book. Photographic images of guests at the solo exhibition are presented, as well as words of gratitude to those that walked the journey of being supportive in making "Unspoken Woman" a success.

— Ayanna Najuma, special to The Oklahoman

Book signing at UCO Jazz Lab

A book signing and artist meet-up will be at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 16 at the University of Central Oklahoma Jazz Lab, 100 East Fifth Street in Edmond.

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Review: Artist Ronna Pernell's new book showcases collective bond of African American women

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