Being 30 years old and having lived within the urban communities of Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City for my entire life; I have become keenly aware of being perceived by others inaccurately due to American racial constructions. Deep layers of billboard advertisements typically surround these communities and for nearly a decade I have used this material in my work as a meaningful layer of "paint", referencing prejudiced views that are levied against black people. My current studio practice involves pulverizing these ads and creating a new form of paper which I then make various shades of black and embed with specifically chosen objects. Hammered pieces of metal, meteorites that fell from the sky in 1492, powdered tires, shredded steel bits, natural crystals, etched and inked copper plates, and royal purple velvet fabrics all combine within one piece to create an unexpected yet intriguing experience. It is my goal to not only slow down the reading of a painting, but to trump the historically given terms entirely. This directly relates to being able to perceive a kind of blackness that's not so easily definable.
From figurative to abstract, my new paintings and prints look somewhere in between the asphalt of the street and the starry deep of space. This "pointing upwards" is crucial because it relates directly to the West African spiritual belief system of Ifa, which I practice. Ifa provides an African-based means of self-improvement and higher ascent towards one's soul. This alchemical quality is something that I strive for in my practice and conceptually reference through my handling of materials and mark making. The overall project of radicalizing a new ground, presentation strategies and forms of blackness via painting and printmaking is further reinforced by negating their respective traditions. Decisions such as replacing cotton canvas with sagging funkadelic velvet, pouring black "urban pulp" on the floor as opposed to working from an easel, and not using paint are intentional conflations that are necessary for me to maneuver conceptually.