Robert Xavier tells stories through art


Courtesy of Robert Xavier

Morgan Williamson, Contributor

Robert Xavier paints with a purpose. 

His paintings sometimes tell beautiful, yet horrific stories about African American women. They also tell tales that many have experienced before, leaving the viewer to reflect on his or her own life.

Born in Oakland, California and raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Xavier fell in love with art at a young age. 

“My sister had a Lego box set that she would draw on,” Xavier said. “As I watched her, I thought to myself, ‘I could do that too.’ Then in middle school, I started drawing SpongeBob characters and people loved it. From then, it catapulted into pouring my heart into what I do.”  

Living with his mother and sister while his dad was overseas, Xavier started digging deep into his family’s history. This became a healing process for him and his mother. 

“Growing up listening to the stories of my mom, grandma, and sister’s sexual assault was a lot,” Xavier said. “Being surrounded by women most of my life inspired all my paintings. The empowerment of women.” 

With this, Xavier focuses on three women who are always in each of his paintings, which do a different take of the holy trinity. Each one, he says, represents an issue that many African American women face in today’s society. 

“When you think of the holy trinity, you think of males, but I wanted to do it in the female perspective,” Xavier said. 

The first character he created, Promise, is a woman who wears a crown of thorns on her head. 

“She represents all these false promises men and society would give her,” he said. “She started wearing all these promises on top of her head symbolizing the idea of them being engraved in her mind and her belief that all these promises would happen. But they were never executed.” 

The second woman, HER, with a darker skin tone, shaved head, and holes drawn through her, represents another huge issue that African American women face today. 

“HER stems from the idea that women with a darker complexion aren’t pretty,” he said. “The holes symbolize people seeing through her. The feeling of not being good enough to even be a woman.”

And lastly, Soon, a vitiligo woman with her stomach drawn as a cage.

“This character embodies the earth, the spots representing water,” Xavier said . “The cage represents the many deaths she’s had inside her. The concept that so many people have gone inside of her to find themselves drawing. Which could be looked at as miscarriages.” 

Looking at Xavier’s paintings, viewers will not only see all three women but will see a story they represent. He aims to make his paintings relatable to women or someone who knows a woman who is feeling or going through the same thing. 

“His art truly leaves you speechless,” said Camryn Thompson, junior visual arts student. 

Many N.C. A&T students find themselves stopping and watching him paint in his room with the window up.

“You can’t help but watch beautiful art being created,” said Brandon Wells, junior visual arts student.

With his first show coming up, Xavier plans to tell the story of his mother carrying him for nine months. The title of the show: “NINE.” 

His first show will be on Nov. 9 at 433 Spring Garden St. at 5 p.m. 

“I plan on seeing more stories created about African American women,” said Mia Robinson, a freshman biology student.