Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My Summer Work

During the summer of 2010, as a member of the McNair Scholars program, I was able to further explore my passion behind creating art. I performed undergraduate research through the medium of oil paint. Relying on self motivation, I was able to concentrate on making art outside of the confines of academia's rigid structure while investigating a variety of self-motivated ideas.

A Portrait of Identity

oil on canvas
60" x 48"

ARTIST'S STATEMENT: When I leave the sheltered college environment my eyes are opened to an unmasked reality that helps one to better understand the importance of diversity and the consequences without. Perhaps some of these consequences include the awkward stares or unlikely interaction that comes along with looking different. Furthermore, I have found there is something extraordinary yet beautiful about the discomforting prejudice that builds reality. In response, I have created a painting that represents the black male figure in a way that unifies the power and beauty of classicism with the stereotype of the contemporary “street image”. The viewers’ idea of the black male figure determines their response to the painting. What one sees is a reflection of their expectations and experiences with the black male. The understanding of identity is challenged as the painting fosters a multidimensional and definite power relationship with the viewer. If one can overcome their stereotype of the black male, the classical pose welcomes them into the space, however a space they may not feel comfortable in. The painting references early American Portraiture, in particular Gilbert Stuart’s Lansdowne Portrait, in which George Washington presents the new world of America. Artists like Kehinde Wiley and Barkley Hendricks have also helped influence the development of the painting. Through research of their work combined with my ideas, I use an age old tradition of an oil painting in an attempt to create the perfect marriage between society’s preconceptions and the beauty of reality. The painting implies that reality is not universal, it is what one perceives. Additionally, there is a hidden beauty found within the stereotypes that are created by society.

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