Ultimately, I create in the hope that something in the final work shifts someone else’s perception, and helps them see the power they have to positively act, whether that be in protest, conversation, or to protect someone unlike them.
I consider myself a visual anthropologist, using my curiosity to survey concepts that ultimately question notions of beauty and identity through ongoing serial works that result in drawings, paintings and sculptural compositions. Blackness, queerness, environmental, and social issues are recurring themes in my work.
My making process is rooted in discovering the layers of identity; both in myself, and in society as a whole. A first generation Caribbean-American, child of divorce, and a transitory upbringing, I have a distance in my perspective of American history. Without the oral history that American grandparents and great grands might have provided, all my learned history is bookish and of limited perspective. I create to understand more deeply and open conversations that encourage others to face and question their knowledge and influences.
My art is heavily influenced by interconnectedness and the importance and beauty of nature. The sun’s warmth, the dappled tones of leaves and their shadows, the wood grain that embodies individuality, and the water that ties all of life together. I rarely make or use resources without connection to a purpose. I do not carry my presence in this world at this time lightly, and I hope to convey the weight of that through my focus on celebrating the cyclical thread of life, eco consciousness and natural materials.
ARTISTIC PRACTICE OVERVIEW
As a multidisciplinary artist, it is fundamental to my process to take time to explore and experiment with techniques and materials across mediums. Doing so unlocks new pathways of understanding and approaching my main disciplines of drawing and painting. My work often combines a compelling or challenging subject with an intentionally chosen color palette, drawing upon the rich history of color theory and emotive impact. I leverage my knowledge of design, drawing, painting, wire, fiber, wood, stone, and other natural materials in varied combinations to transport viewers to new understandings.
As a self taught artist, I lean on curiosity as I explore. Constantly open to discovery by learning to use new techniques, I’ve found ways to unlock creative blocks by shifting gears. I try to come to each piece free of preconceptions so I may remain open to possibilities. For my portraits, realism is not the goal. For my murals, perfection is not the goal. My goal across mediums is to connect with the viewer and open conversations and new perceptions in how they define themselves and those different around them. No matter the subject, the goal of my work is to strengthen empathy and build bridges to understanding.
My recent range of work includes:
– Two ongoing portrait series (The Universe Tribe & The Odes),
– Designing and painting both interior and exterior murals,
– and a very recent return to abstract figurative works that celebrate the Ohio landscape and rich history. Portraits of a different sort…
In all mediums, design and composition of my works are based on deep research and exploration of visual concepts. My making process begins with creating mental compositions along themes, and deciding what facet of a concept I want a piece to focus on. I work to create a mood, through color and texture, and then embark on the physical work of deciding a substrate size, and medium. For murals or abstract works, sometimes these elements are decided for me, whether by the grain pattern in the wood, size of the piece, or the specific environment the work will potentially display in. While painting, I contemplate – this part of the process is therapy for me – the world fades back as I watch the compositions come to life. Impermanence is important at this stage, as I anticipate the letting go process, when the paint, water, and additives (color pencils, graphite powder, spices, plaster, dirt) hit the painting surface. I relish opportunities to respond to the surface as it dries. Works are further modified with wood burning, sanding, or layers of lightly tinted varnishes; materials that require vigilance as the artwork changes and transitions into it’s permanent state. I see these moments of action and waiting much like the improvisational choreography in the pace of life.
Through my portrait works I examine what it means to be Black, queer, and remain inspired. Often, my works celebrate gender, science, empathy, and non-traditional beauty. I have an urgency in contributing to the great human potential for change; creating works that give pause and reflection for a shift toward empathy, less polarization and greater respect and care for our natural world.
I find inspiration through natural materials, allowing the patterns of woodgrain to softly peek through the compositions, pulling viewers between adoration of nature and imagery, and perhaps helping folks to recognize their ultimate connection.
One person may see the twinkle of an eye in a pleasing portrait, while another sees the hero I desire to celebrate and walk away intending to learn more about that person. The people who go further may learn and be inspired to make a small change in their own corner of the world, others may come away delighted in a beauty as they hadn’t seen in the past.
2020 bought me into a new realm of work and activism. With the onset of the racial protests in Columbus, I was one of many people wanting to add my voice to creating positive change for Black people. I was invited to work on the first mural downtown, and found myself hooked on this important mode of visual expression. I am new to painting in public, as well as painting large surfaces. The jump into this work has helped me see new ways to enhance my making process on a small scale, and quicken my sessions that result in finished works. It’s been exciting to be invited to interact with new people through art, and I now look for more opportunities to do this collaborative work. I will never forget the power of a predominantly white side of town seeing someone that looks like me painting a large portrait of Spock! I recognize the importance of people seeing the artist at work, and the many different conversations that open up while out painting. To be someone who shifts people’s perception of Blackness not being a monolith! On the heels of the early part of the pandemic, having moments to connect beyond a screen have been important to my mental health, and give me insight into the interests of others. We are not all that different.