Usher Board President, 2018, is a tour de force. A church usher’s role is one of leadership and service, having both practical and spiritual dimensions. Pruitt has drawn this woman with great reverence on an imposing seven-foot sheet of paper, depicting the various textures of hair, flesh, and fabric with tremendous sensitivity. Her eyelids are half lowered in focused thought and her posture is perfectly straight, conveying moral
rectitude. One hand is held to her chin, and she holds a pencil, indicative both of her own responsibilities and the artist’s. Everything about her signals that she takes her role seriously, as does Pruitt. Into the upper bodice of the woman’s dress, he quietly positions symbols of planets, the sun, and the African continent. Situating these emblems unobtrusively on her chest, he places them by her heart, emphasizing their importance while preventing them from dominating the image or pushing it into the realm of either fantasy or fiction. The drawing projects her authority and beauty, conveyed in no small part by the solidity with which Pruitt articulates the volumes of her form.
- Daniel Gerwin, The Potent Realism of Robert Pruitt’s Black Portraiture, Hyperallergic, December 4, 2018