As a winner of the Rome Prize, nationally known painter Beverly McIver was able to leave her hectic schedule of teaching at Duke University and the burden of caregiving for her family to spend a year painting, a true luxury for the artist. "Italy--outwardly spectacular, with its mysterious quality of light--gave me the gift of being able to hear my inner voice loud and clear."
The artist noticed a peculiarity in the works she created during this intensely creative time. "In most of the portraits I created, my subject's eyes are either closed or covered by sunglasses. But I realized the closed eyes were not a refusal to see, but a turning inward, an experience of centeredness. I felt like my time at the academy was introspective and sometimes, as a person of color, in the historic heart of Western Civilization, I felt invisible. But this was also freeing. I couldn't remember the last time it was this quiet in my head."
Since returning from Rome, McIver has been "... fascinated with those who courageously share their authentic selves with the world. I continue to create portraits of white males in blackface, black women in body paint, and men who dress in drag. I remain intrigued by masks, dress-up, and how we as humans choose to define ourselves... I hope these new paintings inspire others who may need permission to be their authentic self. "