Elizabeth Colomba’s mission is seemingly singular and simple: to paint Black women in all of their splendor using the stylings of the old masters. What emanates from her canvases is power, reclaimed. Her sumptuous and ornate Western history portraits create a world where Black women are central in a period and genre of art that has always depicted them as subservient—if at all. In an interview with The Huffington Post on March 25, Colomba detailed her mission and inspiration:

Given the representation in the past of Black people, where they’re usually represented as subservient or always echoing a White presence, it’s shattered in the way they are embracing their own space. They take up room in their own space. You don’t think of Black people in those kinds of environments, wearing those dresses, having this kind of narrative around them at that time. When you think about Black women wearing a period dress, you have a tendency to think that they were serving other people, another ethnicity, and they were not in power. That’s where I break the stereotype. And that’s what sometimes makes people uncomfortable. 

Read the entire interview here.