Black hair: a lifestyle / a journey


Black hair: a lifestyle / a journey

When: June 19 – August 5, 2023

Where: Free to view – In the storefront windows of the Painted Bride building (5212 Market St, Philadelphia, PA 19139)

Artist Statement

As an artist I try to mix fun with a little culture. I believe art is universal and boundless. It should translate across all diversities and ethnicities. I draw my inspiration from everywhere. However, history has always been my favorite go to. Childhood favorites such as the Grimm Brothers fairy tales, historic movies, and documentaries as well as television shows and animations really excite my artistic passion.

The beautiful illustrations of the past assist me in wanting to give artistic life to the current generation. When I was young, like most girls, I loved all the Disney movies and the pretty princesses. As well as the beautiful illustrations in the Grimm Brothers books and the wonderful works of art from master artists such as Alphonse Mucha and Gil Elvgren. But of course, none of these ladies looked like me. So, whenever I drew a figure, I instinctively made the females look like me.

As I got older, I decided to broaden that concept by not just creating black princesses but black women in opulence. My choice for working this way is to create a moment of epiphany for the viewer. That when people look at my work, if they are black, they see their own true majesty. And, if they are not, they see the majesty of black people.

Artist Bio

Philadelphia, PA native Erika Richards is a professional illustrator – a skilled artist who works in the mediums of watercolor, colored pencil, and graphite. Erika began creating art at the age of three. A love for the female figure, fairy tales and history has developed into Erika creating fantasy art with a focus on black women of grandeur.

Erika is a graduate of the Moore College of Art and Design located in Philadelphia, PA with a BFA in Illustration. Her artistic skills have earned her several accolades. She is the recipient of the Philadelphia Watercolor Society Award 2017, 2nd place award for “Best Illustrator” at the 34th Annual Fall for the Arts Festival Chestnut Hill, PA 2018 and 1st place artist award for the 11th Annual Gloucester City Cultural Arts and Heritage Society 2019. Her most recent accolade is the Philadelphia Fellowship for Black Artists Mural Arts Philadelphia 2020.

In the summer of 2019, she started her business Erika L. Illustrations LLC. Erika L. LLC prides itself on putting quality artwork first. “If the work is brilliant, everything else will fall into place.” Erika L. Illustrations produces pristine art with an emphasis on black women. Erika is supported by her mother CFO Sherida Douglass; both are working on growing Erika L. and are currently embarking on a new endeavor, Queen Louise art Gallery. Doing their part to change and improve the dynamic between “art gallery” and “artists.”


This event is part of Painted Bride’s “Open Market” series. Our “Open Market” event series, running now through summer, welcomes you to our new hub space on Market Street. We’ve co-created exciting programs with multiple local artists for Bride friends, old and new.