My pieces are sculptural abstractions of the human figure, which reference the body in a celebratory manner. The Yoruba sculpture of southwest Nigeria, dating from 100 to 1450 C.E. made from a range of materials including wood, copper, and clay are my primary influences. Yoruba work from this era depicted deities and effigies that coincided with their belief system, with the visual emphasis centered on the limbs and torsos of the figures suggesting movement. Yoruba art was often frontal in appearance and intertwined with narrative images revealing the thematic content within their work. The art that I create references my life experiences through narratives. I begin by giving form to narratives referencing my upbringing in the urban areas of Chicago, where I was exposed to a diverse culture that was created within a heavily populated urban area. My formative years 1980-1990 were during the height of the 'hip-hop generation' and I lived in a place and time where such urban art forms as graffiti and break-dancing evolved into solid genre from underground beginnings. These experiences, and the people associated with them, are often the central concept behind my sculptures. I work to capture a viewer's imagination by connecting his or her ideas of presence to that which is timeless. By abstracting what is expected, by referencing the human form and by shaping the landscape of the material I work with, I create sculptures that give a viewer room to place his or her own perspectives somewhere within my idea of how experience is represented. Within the aspects of my sculpture that are their surface and visceral qualities, I respond to vary the contrast of hard and soft, shiny and matte. This type of variation allows a viewer's eye to perceive movement in form and highlight. I expect a viewer to perceive these elements as those that are most important. The unification of surface and form that my art displays creates a visual dialog that relates to the viewer the perpetuation of my concept. The concept that surface of my sculptures relates to the skin of the human body. My work has a presence that a viewer can investigate the form of and ask questions of themselves pertaining to who they are and how they relate to the different environments that they have had experience with.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Sculpture--Themes, motives; African American sculpture; Human figure in art
Department, Program, or Center
School for American Crafts (CIAS)
Mitchell, James N., "Roots, reality, and culture." (2007). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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