at the TAPPAN Atelier
1008 Maple Avenue, 2nd Floor
Opening Reception Friday, March 31, 7-9pm
How are these works different from those exhibited in Ivory Gold Slaves?
Ivory Gold Slaves was an exploration of historical events; events that led to the oppression of a culture. Black Privilege is the tale of a black artist in America. This is what it looks like to be an American painter through my lens.
Do you view this series and the themes it speaks to as a natural extension of your previous works, or was there a particular paradigm shifting moment that led you to exploring this theme?
The themes in my work are always intertwined, because the work comes from the same honest place within. With this show I really wanted people to see and feel the core complexities that makes me who I am.
Can you unpack the depth of Black Privilege? Specifically this concept outside of your work, particularly your personal experience of being a black male artist in this day and age.
My experience as an American painter is quite different than most. I really live that experience day in and day out. I am black, I am educated, and I am valuable. My struggles are culturally inflected. The art world has this lottery system of who gets recognition and who gets to acquire the prestige of being called a “Fine Artist”. A lot of times, minorities and women get swept in the corner, as if our work isn’t as vital. Me being the artist that I am is my antidote to that lottery system.
Material has previously played an integral role in your works. Talk about the materials used in these pieces, and whether material contributes to the conveyed idea.
The materials used in Black Privilege are quite minimal. Pastels, primer, paper, and tape. I wanted to tell a story with the bare essentials. The tape is the most fascinating element, because that same tape was suspending the paper to the wall through creation. In return that support became part of the actual work.
Did location help build these concepts for the work? I’m curious how location may have affected your process. New York and Los Angeles are both creative cities we fall in love with, yet their characters are so different. How has that juxtaposition affected your work, your feeling as an artist?
Location is just the top layer of the equation. New York is a golden cage and as artists we must challenge our own comfort zones in order to create new work. Living between both Los Angeles and New York is total mind rattle, just because of how different both places are structured. The work feels different , because there’s been a mental shift in my personal psyche. I’ve embraced this state of mind, that realization that anything that isn't living is dead.
What is the relationship between each of these pieces in the show?
Each piece is a vignette in my life, be it a conversation with my grandmother or my vision of what it means to be privileged.
How did you determine the titles of these pieces?
The titles came naturally. I wanted them to take on a life of their own, minus over-complication.
Your mother was an artist. What was your relationship like, and how did it impact your work?
My Mother was an artist and she passed away a little under a decade ago. Our relationship was uncanny; she was my best friend in the whole world. Her love and friendship were unconditional. She was my first mentor, and I her pupil. She's not present in physical form for me to share my work directly with her, but I’d like to think that my frequency is reaching her somehow.