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For over five decades, Synthia Saint James has used her artistry as an avenue to celebrate the different facets of Black culture, and the Los Angeles native’s latest project is centered on merging art and literature. She recently released her first visual art book.

The book—titled My Multicultural World—serves as a reflection piece. Within its pages are 65 vibrant paintings created by James throughout her acclaimed career. She gives readers a personal lens into her source of inspiration behind each piece of art.

James ventured into the world of art in 1969 after selling one of her paintings to a co-worker. As she continued to evolve in the space, she developed a signature style in which she painted figures that didn’t have facial features. James made history by creating the imagery for the U.S. Postal Service’s first Kwanzaa stamp. Her work has also been featured on the covers of books like Waiting to Exhale penned by Terry McMillan. Major corporations like Johnson & Johnson, AARP and Maybelline have used James’ art for their campaigns. Her creations have been celebrated globally in places that include Ghana, Eritrea, Nigeria, Venezuela and other countries.

In an interview with NBC News, James shared she wants to use her talent to pay it forward. “I really think it was a gift from the creator and I also think that with that gift comes responsibility,” she shared. “I like to share and I like to work with a lot of nonprofits and other organizations to encourage and help. I am not money rich at all.”

James has paved the way for a new generation of Black women artists like Bisa Butler and Amy Sherald. There is a need for more racial and gender representation in the art industry as Black women make up only 4 percent of creators within fine art institutions throughout the United States.

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