serigraph on paper
This work critiques the casual, flippant use of a denigrating term in black colloquial expressions. The appropriate use of the word bitch—referencing a female dog—is paired with a photograph of the abolitionist Harriet Tubman. The image forces the viewer to consider the moral implications of applying the word to women as well as to animals, particularly when that person is a venerated figure like Ms. Tubman. It is indicative of the misogyny inherent in some strains of black vernacular common in nihilistic expressions of hip hop culture.
serigraph on paper; 25 x 26 inches; 2018.
H.N.I.C., is the acronym for the expression ‘Head Nigga in Charge.’ The term is widely used in certain segments of the black community to refer to African Americans in positions of authority. Historically it was used in a pejorative sense to ridicule token blacks placed in nominal positions of responsibility to reinforce an illusion of agency when power, in it’s material iteration, ultimately resided in someone else’s hands. I have used the phrase in this work, to link the past to the present by juxtaposing an image of myself as a slave driver in the first panel, and as a business man in the second panel. The hands resting on my shoulders suggest an enduring conflation of race and power.
H.N.I.C. (detail); serigraph on paper
Alabama Black Snake
Photo lithography on paper; 2019.
Alabama Black Snake explores the historical paranoia surrounding the black male body in the white imagination. The irrational fear of black men, and the association of their bodies, with predatory, ravenous intent, fomented a set of racist tropes, which fed the blood lust of lynching mobs throughout the south. The castration of thousands of victims; the stuffing of the dismembered genitals in the mouths of the dead and dying, revealed both a revulsion of, and an obsessive fascination for the black male reproductive organ.
Alabama Black Snake (detail); serigraph on paper
serigraph on paper, and bullwhip. 19" x 30", 2018.
This work conflates meanings by juxtaposing two iterations of the term whip, to reveal how language can function as an indicator of multiple meanings—one implying the painful legacy of slavery; the other, a cool way of referring to one’s car in southern black vernacular.
Whip, (detail); 2018. Serigraph on paper, and bullwhip.
Auntie Rosetta's Stone
graphite and polymergravure on paper; 16 x 2.5 x 28 inches; 2018.
Language is a code; a system of signs and signifiers that carry the linguistic DNA of a people. This work re-imagines the ancient Rosetta stone of Kush or Egypt as the conceptual key for unlocking the complex, reflexive, improvisational; and multi-valent elements of black colloquial expressions. The old woman is a keeper of memory. She guards what is hidden, and transmits only to the sincere, the secrets she holds.
Auntie Rosetta's Stone (detail); graphite on paper
Auntie Rosetta's Stone (detail); polymergravure on paper
Twice as Good #'s 1-2
Serigraph on paper; dimensions: 23.5” x 26”, 24” x 26”, 2018.
Twice as Good, renders how language has been used historically, within the black community, to instruct through humor and sardonic wit. it is a brilliant example of encoded meaning so common to black vernacular. Its roots extend to slavery—the need to develop a complex system of meaning to conceal intent and preserve secrecy. It is a sobering lesson meant to temper ambition, and prepare black children for the harsh realities facing them in a racist society.
Twice as Good #1; Serigraph on paper; 24" x 25", 2018.
Twice as Good (detail); serigraph on paper; 2018.
Twice as Good #2; Serigraph on paper; 24" x 25", 2018.
2018, Serigraph on paper.
Onion, is a term widely used in the black community to refer to a woman’s backside. It reflects an element of misogyny which taints the inventive brilliance of black vernacular expressions. The term, although meant as a compliment, nevertheless equates a woman’s body with inanimate objects divesting it of the spirit which animates it.
Can you Degg It!?
pen and ink, and serigraph on paper; red clay, and charcoal on shovel; 2018.
2018. pen and ink on paper; steel screw; pillow; serigraph on fabric.
The title of this work refers to corrupt public officials. A common street name for police officers, in certain communities, was the term screw, as in one who applies pressure. A bent screw then, is one who is unethical in the manner in which one applies said pressure.
Bent Screw (detail)
Hard Head makes a Soft Butt
leather strap; nail head; pillow, and serigraph on fabric; 2018.
I heard this expression many times growing up. It was one of my father’s go to warnings, derived from his childhood in central Texas. It is a cautionary injunction against stubbornness, and the consequences associated with obstinacy—an ass whipping.
19” x 25”
Hard head makes a soft butt (detail)
photo print; 2016.
This image was taken on historic Ossabaw Island off the coast of Georgia. The island was home to a large population of enslaved Africans in the 19th century. This Gullah community harvested indigo and sea island cotton in relative isolation from the mainland, and produced a rich African based cultural expression that has endured and flourished on nearby islands such as Sapelo, and St. Helena. Ossabaw is now primarily a research based property, managed by the state. This image represents the trickster Orisha or diety Legba, who ranks prominently among the Yoruba religious system of deities. Taken in the shadow of three preserved slave cabins, the photograph is intended to emphasize the enduring cultural imprint which arrived on these shores embedded in the DNA of the captured African.
portrait of the artist, 2018.
People of the Prairie
Charcoal on paper, 2018.
Some People I've Met Along the Way, (excerpt), 2019.
graphite on paper; 11 (x) 17 inches.