Artist battles ignorance through art

In order for an artist to achieve success, he or she must be dedicated, hard-working, patient, committed and talented, which helps to explain why Cbabi Bayoc has arrived.GSU art professor Larry Holston said that he was fortunate to have Bayoc in his painting and drawing classes. “When he was a student we saw he had natural ability to paint and to draw, and he was creative. That set him apart from a lot of other students.”

Tommie Sue Slaughter, who has taught art at GSU for over 10 years, said of Bayoc, “He was the most committed student I’ve ever taught. If the quota was six paintings, he did 12. He challenged himself. He was in competition with himself,” she said.

Like most artists, Bayoc’s styles and subjects changed as he matured. Donna McGee, Art Department chair, said, “When he was here he was a little of a rebel, which is not uncommon for an artist. I was a rebel myself.”

She says that Bayoc has made a transition from anti-establishment to a strong family-oriented person. “I enjoy his work, the playfulness of it. Also, he has strong family values and loves his children and children in general. It comes out in his work,” said McGee.

Holston said that he enjoys Bayoc’s or work and describes it as “friendly.” “Now his artwork is family-oriented, and you can see the influence his family has had in his life,” he said.

“In his earlier work he was trying to develop his style. He moved around in what he was doing in terms of expression. He was trying to find himself based on his experiences as a Black man. He has changed a lot,” said Holston.

Bayoc said of his transition, “Then, I was trying to find myself. A few years ago I began honing in on different series, and my personality is showing up a lot more in my work. Now, I am a husband and a parent, which is reflected in my work.”

Now Bayoc’s main purpose for creating art is to depict the love he has for his family and music.

Bayoc, a 1995 graduate, returned to his alma mater as a featured guest artist for the Art Department’s 2008 Celebration of the Arts. His worked was exhibited in Dunbar Gallery. He lectured in the Black & Gold Room of the Favrot Student Union and sold his artwork and prints at a reception in the gallery.

“I had him here because he is a Grambling graduate and I knew that he would be a real inspiration to our students,” said McGee. “He could talk to them about the transition from being a student to an artist. He was once where they are.”

McGee said that Bayoc was one of the best speakers that they have had, and he gave the students good advice. “He told our student that everything they say to people creates connections and can be important in their lives later.”

Bayoc said that she thought it was great to return to GSU. “I left as a student and came back as a professional. I feel great, accomplished.”

He said, “The main thing I wanted to get across to the students was work. Don’t just call yourself an artist. Show yourself through your work. Start building your community now. Be mindful of how you treat people now. Know your market, and remember to pay your taxes.”

Art major Brandi Cockerham said, “He inspired me to believe in myself as I work throughout my art. I love the way he interpreted cubism like Picasso.” She said the piece she liked best was Bayoc’s I Pick This for You. “His work was very inspiring. I like the meaning of it.”

Another art major, Ashley Barnes, said, “He motivated me to have a better composition by teaching me the principles and values of my artwork.”

“I really liked his Inspiring and Leaf Play,” said Barnes, a junior from Logansport.

Many people attended the reception because they remembered Bayoc during his tenure as a student at Grambling.

“It was the most well-attended, top-selling show to date,” said Holston.

Dr. Dorothy Alexander, retired GSU dean of the College of Basic Students, said, “He is one of ours, and it always warms my heart to see one of our students succeed in his profession. I wish more students had heard his philosophy of getting to know each other because you never can tell when you will be able to do cooperative initiatives.”

“I knew him when he was a little rabble-rouser. I never dreamt of him of being a family man,” Alexander said. “He loves his children. That’s why he said men do not baby-sit their children. It was very touching to see his lovely kids and wife.”

Alexander said his becoming a father has changed him. She liked the children’s series because it reflected his tenderness to children and his devotion to family.
Slaughter said, “His work is more mature and sophisticated. I like the man he has become. He is a family man.”

Bayoc is married to Reine, and they have three children: Jurni, 7; Ajani, 5; and Birago, 2.
In 1997 he legally changed his name form Clifford Miskell to Cbabi so that he would never forget his divine purpose. Cbabi stands for “creative black artist battling ignorance.”

“Bayoc” was given to him by his wife. It is an acronym for “blessed African youth of creativity.” Cbabi wanted to have a last name that included the attributes of the wife he was going to bear children with because the last name, he felt, should reflect both parents and not just the father.

Slaughter, “I like his work, commitment and philosophy. I am proud of him; he has given something to the students. I am glad that he has achieved such success because it is hard making it as an artist.”

Cbabi didn’t take his art seriously until college, when he decided to pursue a degree in art. He worked as a cartoonist for The Gramblinite.

Bayoc’s illustrations have been featured in Rap Pages and XXL magazines and children’s books. His work has been commissioned by Coca Cola and Anheuser-Busch. He has sold his artwork to artists such as Erykah Badu and Prince, and various musicians have featured his work on their album covers and in their videos. His paintings and reproductions are in galleries across the country and in homes throughout the world.