The Art of Beverly McIver

Below is some of the paintings from the first series that Beverly worked on.  Her complicated relationship with her sister is on exhibit in these paintings.  She told Marc in our interview that she had begun these portraits in a loving way, in an effort to honor the similarities she saw in her mentally disabled sister and herself.  And at some point, she just began scratching her sisters face out, sometimes scratching her own entire body out so she was barely visible.  She said she was horrified by her behavior, but on the advice of an art teacher, she just went with it.


Beverly McIver, “My Sister and I #1” 1993 Oil on canvas 33 x 30 in.


Beverly McIver “My Sister and I #2” 1993 Oil on canvas 28 x 27 1⁄2 in.

Beverly talked with Marc about how when she moved to Arizona to teach, she began to consider what it would mean to date a white man.  A series of paintings with a white man ended in the following painting-an image of her dancing with a white man, her face scratched out.  She says, “He was erasing me.”


Beverly McIver “Invisible Me” 1999 Oil on Canvas 36 x 36 in.

Another series of McIver’s that has gotten a lot of attention is her watermelon series.  In her interview with Marc, she talks about how her unwillingness to eat watermelon around white people shocked her, and she knew she had to tackle this topic.


Beverly McIver, “Watermelon Ritual” 2000 Oil on canvas 39 3⁄4 x 29 3⁄4 in.

She has received some criticism for making what her critics term “Mammy Portraits”.  She talked with Marc about how she was channeling her mother, who was a domestic for a white family, while painting these, and thinking of the tremendous amount of pain that exists in the memory of the occupations that Black women were allowed to have.


Beverly McIver “Oh Happy Day” 2001 Oil on Canvas 60 x 55 3/4 in.

And of course-her paintings of herself in black-face.  McIver told Marc the story of how she became interested in clowns while in high school, but it wasn’t until she was older that she realized she could be a black clown.  She describes this as a liberating experience.

“Dora’s Dance #3″, 2002, Oil on canvas, 60″ x 48”

BEVERLY MCIVER, “Headache”, 2007, Oil on canvas, 48″ x 36″


Beverly McIver “School Girl” 2002 Oil on Canvas 29 1/2 x 42 in.


Beverly McIver, “Chelsea Girl” 2004 Oil on canvas 60 x 60 in.

Her latest paintings that feature her sister demonstrate a healing in that relationship.  When their mother died, Beverly became the primary caregiver for Renee, and began to understand a maternal selflessness and the sense that she would be willing to do anything for Renee. 


Beverly McIver, “Me and Renee Dancing” 2004 Oil on canvas 48 x 60 in.


Beverly McIver, “Embrace”, 2005, Oil on canvas 48 x 36 in.

BEVERLY MCIVER, “Sisters Touch”, 2006, Oil on canvas, 36″ x 48″
BEVERLY MCIVER, “Leading the Way”, 2006, Oil on canvas, 48″ x 48″

All of these images were hotlinked from The Kent Gallery, and the C. Grimaldis Gallery.

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One Response

  1. IMO – very soulful works. I cant say that if I found out the painter was anything other than AA…I’d feel the same way. What does that say about me?

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