I Exist

Oil on Belgian Linen with Iron Oxide, 56.5" x 45"

The figure of Eve on the cross represents all women. Around her are significant women of Black history. Zora Neale Hurston—celebrated writer and central figure of the Harlem Renaissance—stands on the left; in the center, internationally renowned singer-songwriter, musician, and composer Nina Simone kneels at the foot of the cross; and next to her is abolitionist, women’s rights advocate, and orator Sojourner Truth. All beseech Eve to continue giving the world her gifts, her talents.

The painting asks, “How does one prove one’s existence on earth before transcending?” With the three women, all civil rights activists, the work offers an answer: “Use your gift to inspire change, and leave behind your legacy for future generations.”

Modeled after Michelangelo’s sixteenth-century drawing, Rosales’s work captures the sense of urgency—suggested by the turbulent clouds and the skull symbolizing death—to apply one’s allotted talent and time on earth to make a difference.