Post Modem Discourse
When considering imagery for a piece to include in my M.F.A. thesis exhibition, I wanted to create something that could address the persistence of stereotypes in the New Millennium - a work that underlined and excoriated the Digital Divide. For that I created P.M.D., or Post Modem Discourse.
P.M.D. is a mixed media work, fashioned from a re-purposed wooden chair with modern implements attached. The overall visage is that of a stylized 'pickaninny' head, inspired in part by Hip Hop group, K.M.D.
Blk.Mas.Hero / Good Hope Series
In his book The Hip Hop Generation, author Bakari Kitwana purports, "Ask any young Black American born between 1965 and 1984 where they were on September 13, 1996, and most can tell you. Ask them where they were six months later on March 9, 1997, and you'll get recollections as crystal clear as a baby boomer reminiscing on his or her whereabouts upon hearing of the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., or Malcolm X." The dates mark the murders of 2Pac and Biggie, respectively. And while a somewhat broad based generalization, it is an earnest and accurate assessment.
From this realization, I created the Good Hope series. Identified by a common name; (and for a church in my hometown, Monroe, GA) Good Hope ties in not only the faith that we place in appointed and anointed leaders, but the worship and supplication of socially constructed “media idols.” Acknowledging that spirituality (not just religion) has always been the vital core of the African American culture opened the possibilities of formulating this work. Whether Yoruba deities cloaked in European sensibilities, spirituality and religion “colors” the speech, the thought, and the aspirations of the many men and women of African descent.
In the featured ensemble from the series, a pair of church fans juxtapose the image of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X (a.k.a. El Hajj Malik El-Shabazz), with Hip Hop emcees Tupac Shakur (a.k.a. 2Pac named after the Incan revolutionary, Tupac Amaru II) and Christopher Wallace, (a.k.a. “Biggie” or the Notorious B.I.G).
I broached these themes again in the centerpiece Blk.Mas/Hero. A reliquary, cum gravestone, (constructed from pieces of a child's crib) hint at the notion of pre-configuration while illuminating a morbid pseudo Mount Rushmore. The “quartet of loss” instilled a sense of hopelessness in one generation, and apathy in another. Through the ritual of mourning, what is brought to the fore is society's obsession with those who die young, and the insistence that those same individuals are the irreplaceable standard bearers, keeping us chasing ghosts.