Colored Girl
7 in. x 9 in.
Wax on paper
prison Artist

Colored Girl is in our famous works category as a result of spawning nine other Colored Girl spin offs, including Colored Girl Warholed, who was used to bring Hope and Beauty as an outdoor billboard exhibition during the Omicron covid outbreak in the winter of 2021.

In 2001, hip hop star Eve released  “Who’s That Girl,” a powerful anthem from her album Scorpion. Eight years later, amidst a very different cultural landscape, California prisoner Donald “C-Note” Hooker created his artwork Colored Girl, a heartfelt celebration of Black women.

Unlike today, 2009 lacked platforms like Black Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat to promote empowerment and visibility for Black women. Popular shows like Girlfriends, with its all-Black female cast, had ended the year before. Public discourse on topics like mass incarceration, later explored in Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, which highlights the plight of incarcerated Black men, and the Black Lives Matter movement did not exist to spark national conversations about racial injustice.These factors amplified the lack of positive narratives surrounding incarcerated Black men.

C-Note’s prison was known for its harsh conditions, a “culture of racism,” and frequent use of force against inmates. An Aljazeera America report further exposed the deep racial divide between guards and the predominantly Black prison population.

Despite these harrowing conditions, set deep in a remote Sierra Nevada Mountain range, C-Note’s fortitude led to the birth of Colored Girl. In a 2016 Darealprisonart interview, he described the piece: 

DRPA: Now we asked you to bring some art, you initially only brought two pieces, and then went back and grabbed four more, why was that?

C-Note: Well, I thought about it, and these other pieces would add to the richness of the conversation and let you know what kind of work I do and how I utilize these works.

DRPA: So what piece would you like to start off with first?

C-Note: “Colored Girl (Highlighted)“

DRPA: I notice it’s a print, and it’s called “Highlighted,” does that mean there is more to this piece?

C-Note: Yes, I still have the original that I hope to give and have exhibited in the National Museum of African American History and Culture, on the National Mall, in Washington D.C.. It’s a very significant piece, for one, it’s a very beautiful piece. It is a piece, and its beauty was made by accident. In other words, I have no clue how it came about. I work in a medium that doesn’t get recognized, I work in wax. So I put all this different kind of wax together and different formulae to dissolve the wax on paper. I had a model. A picture out of a magazine. But I’m not confident as an artist so I don’t want people to compare my finished product to the model or image that I used. I called it “Colored Girl.” I think it fits. It’s clearly a coloration of something, of a woman. But the word “Colored,” though it is a pejorative today, was once known as the desired description that African Americans prefer to be described as. “Colored,” “Negro,” “Black,” these were all terms that African-Americans themselves demanded of the press and white audiences; this is what you call us. An example would be W. E. B. Dubois NAACP. It was originally called the National Negro Committee. Booker T. Washington and other famous black activists before him, demanded that whites call us “Negroes.” So three years after founding the National Negro Committee, W. E. B. Dubois changed the name to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. That’s proof enough that blacks demanded that they be called “Colored.” So “Colored Girl,” what is that? Any black girl, and that’s pretty much the response that I have gotten from this piece. It’s funny because I used a famous person for this piece, but for my own insecurities I never named the person in this piece and all sorts of blacks swear on a stack of Bibles they know who this person is. I hear the names “Vanessa Williams,” “Janet Jackson,” “Eva Pigford,” all across the spectrum. When blacks see the piece, when I show the original, they just get animated. They just light up. There is this spiritual thing that goes on, we begin to communicate telepathically with one another. African Americans have a general complaint that there is a dearth of positive images of them, so there is this silent communication between me and others that this is what that is. So an accidental discovery, “the piece,” and the title, does what it is intended to do, any “Colored Girl.”

DRPA: Wow, that’s quite a story there.

C-Note: Ah, but it’s just one.

The legacy of Colored Girl did not end at its creation in 2009, but in 2015, spawned nine other digital spin offs Colored Girl Bathed In Light, Colored Girl in Blue, Colored Girl Highlighted, Colored Girl In Burgundy, Colored Girl Mood, Colored Girl Warholed Low lights, Colored Girl in Grey, and Colored Girl Warholed.

C-Note’s 2015 artwork, Colored Girl Warholed, draws inspiration from Andy Warhol’s iconic Four Marilyns. Prints of the piece became available in the spring of that year. Warhol’s original Four Marilyns later commanded a staggering $36 million at a Christie’s auction in the fall of 2015.

In the winter of 2021, Anna D. Smith, Fine Art and Real Estate Broker, transformed C-Note’s Colored Girl Warholed into a public exhibition. Titled Look Up! 2 Hope & Beauty Billboard Art Exhibition and Art Sale, the display ran from Dec 27th, 2021, to Jan 31st, 2022.  The Omicron variant of the Coronavirus led to the decision to host this as an outdoor exhibition, with the billboards acting as a gateway into Santana Row.

Santana Row, a hub within Silicon Valley known for its luxury shopping, dining, and residences, provided an ideal setting.  The exhibit garnered approximately one million daily views, reaching a demographic that included employees of tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Apple, as well as visitors enjoying Santana Row’s amenities.

Look Up!” 2, Hope & Beauty Billboard Art Exhibition
Droning off the Look Up!” 2, Hope & Beauty Billboard Art Exhibition.

Own a piece of art history! 

Shop ‘Colored Girl’ and its spin-off prints today. Decorate your space with powerful imagery – click on the images below 👇

Photography Prints

Colored Girl Warholed

Photography Prints

Colored Girl Highlighted

Photography Prints

Colored Girl in Blue

Art Prints

Colored Girl Mood

Art Prints

Colored Girl In Burgundy

Photography Prints

Colored Girl Bathed In Light

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Colored Girl in Grey

Photography Prints

Colored Girl Warholed Low Lights

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