When we decided to acknowledge the authors who touch our souls so profoundly with a special award, the look and feel of the memento was not taken lightly. It had to express the essence of our club as readers and as proud Black women. We give two major awards annually: Author of the Year and New Author of the Year.
Each award is created using our logo as inspiration. Master pottery artist Orah-el creates our Author of the Year award and glass artist Ken Wright creates the New Author of the Year award.
Author of the Year Award Creator
Each year, our honored Author of the Year receives an Orah-el Award Plaque that combines our remarkable logo with the power of mother earth in hand-crafted elegance. Though all awards share a similar design, each one's uniqueness is enhanced by the clay, which is distinctive to the area in which Orah-el is working at the time, thereby adding to its one-of- a-kind "craftswomanship." Orah-el's own art, which has always incorporated images of family, lovers and spirituality, is featured in notable art collections and art galleries around the world.
When asked what inspires her to create such works of art, Orah-El eloquently states: "My work comes from that quiet space inside, where the Creator and I are one. I spend all of my time in Paradise shaping the clay into the pottery you see today. I know each piece is for someone special, so I put that love and peace into everything I do." It is this ethic that ensures that every award we present is an irreplaceable and special work of art, just like our authors who receive them.
New Author of the Year Award Creator
Ken highly regards tools and precision, yet creates graceful stained and fused glass mosaics. Eschewing gentle pastels in favor of a bold and brilliant palate, Ken’s glass images are urban, figurative, and narrative.
A native of Bedford Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, New York, Ken’s first art medium was photography. Ken’s exhibition credits include the Savacou Gallery, the Office of the Manhattan Borough President in New York City, the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, the Zakiya Art Gallery and the South Of the Navy Yard Artists (SONYA) in Brooklyn, New York. He created a stained glass mask for the Mocada Museum’s masquerade ball. He is an active member of the National Conference of Artists, NURTUREart and Black Art In America. Ken is also a master framer and conservationist working with the most outstanding African-American artists in New York City. He was invited to sit on the dais for the dedicators' 6th celebration of Black artists scholarship fund luncheon.
“Mosaic: the many become one. Mosaics are evocative of my diverse career as an artist: photographer, cabinetmaker, antique restorer, musician, and framer of art.
My stained glass mosaics tell the story of the 50-year journey that is my life calling.
My challenge is to get the most out of the glass in order to honestly represent my vision. I select and cut glass in a way that makes it flow like a painting. My style of glass mosaic is organic and narrative. I am most often drawn to people, however, landscape mosaics tell a story I sometimes feel compelled to express.”
Jimmy James Greene
Jr. GOG Reader's Choice Award Creator
Since his childhood in Xenia, Ohio, Jimmy James Greene has shown exceptional artistic ability. After apprenticing with acclaimed afro-centric muralist Jon Onye Lockard in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Greene graduated from The Rhode Island School of Design. Since then he has gone on to become an accomplished collagist, painter draftsman and designer who also works with stained glass, print making and mosaic tile. For the past thirty-five years his work has explored the communal expressions of the African diaspora in general, and those of the African-American experience in particular. “I see myself as a visual story teller,” says Greene. “The styles I use range from tight representation to abstracted forms, depending upon my intent, but the bottom line is communication. Ideally my work will act as a springboard for the viewer into their own imagination, their own experiences, memories and aspirations.”
As a fine artist Greene has executed over thirty one-person exhibitions and innumerable group showings. As a commercial artist he has theater posters, CD covers and many newspaper, magazine and book cover illustrations to his credit.
“Art isn’t like sports – it’s not about the fastest run or the most points scored in a game. Art is about expressing a point of view, one’s self, and there are a whole lot of points of view,” Greene says. “There are many ways of seeing life’s experiences. There hasn’t been a culture on the face of the earth that didn’t express itself through art and, I believe there isn’t a person that doesn’t respond to art on one level or another. We’re just wired that way, thank God.”
For the past thirty years he has resided in New York City as an arts educator and a working artist.