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Ossining Library Celebrates New York Artist

OSSINING, N.Y. – Residents visiting the Ossining Public Library ’s ground floor say they’re amazed at paintings celebrating Black History Month throughout February from New York’s Abdul Badi.

“I appreciate art and this is something else,” said White Plains resident Timothy Jones. “These are really amazing pieces and the pictures advertising for it didn’t do it for me. You really have to see them in person.”

Jones was one of hundreds of Westchester residents who are visiting the library just to see the oil and pastel paintings from Badi, a Brooklyn artist who’s showing his recent work nationally on tour this year. The 58-year-old artist recently hosted a meet-and-greet at the library and paused to comment on his inspiration.

“I fell in love painting third world people when I was a youngster,” he said. ““Coming up as a youth and being African-American, all of the images in movies or magazines or books or what have you were negative. With these pieces, I wanted to create something that was more positive and showed a brighter and stronger side.”

All of the paintings in the library are based on real photographs, Badi said, but aren’t direct copies of photos. Instead, he uses multiple pictures to come up with the inspiration for one painting as a way to capture and create something new and “larger than life.”

“I try to transfer the same feel of the pictures without making duplicates of the photos,” he said. “I paint the people as they are and I don’t idealize or sensationalize it, but I want to work on a bigger scale so that people feel that stronger impact.”

While most of the work is based on realism, Badi recently dabbled with more symbolic imagery to tell a larger and deeper story. His proudest work is called “Lazarus Come Forth” and based on an idea inspired by his 22-year-old son Sadiq Abdul-Badi.

“I had no clue what this was going to be,” Sadiq Abdul-Badi said, noting that he sat in as the model on the piece at 16. “Now that I see it, it turned out pretty cool and it says a lot.”

Badi explained the imagery of the piece.

“There are various African-American heroes in the distance representing not only themselves but the thousands of others that did the hard work of knocking down doors so that today’s young African-Americans can live free as any other men,” Badi said. “The lock represents the things that are still binding today’s youth and the key over the book shows that knowledge is that key to breaking away from those chains.”

To contact Badi on purchasing the art, residents are asked to e-mail him at theartofabdulbadi@gmail.com or by calling (718) 510-7635.

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