Toni Morrison, 2006, Oil on canvas by Robert McCurdy
Toni Morrison has been writing about the experiences of African Americans since her first novel, The Bluest Eye, appeared in 1970. With the publication of each new work, both her fan base and critical acclaim grew, and she won the prestigious National Book Critics Circle Award for Song of Solomon (1977) and the Pulitzer Prize for Beloved (1987). In 1993 Morrison won the Nobel Prize for Literature, the first black woman to become a Nobel laureate.
Robert McCurdy begins his painted portraits with a photograph, asking his sitters to address the unseen viewer directly and to make no gestures. He seeks an image that has no implied past or future but exists in the eternal present. McCurdy's goal is to provide a neutral environment in order to maximize the highly personal nature of the encounter between subject and viewer.