Yeah – gotta look closely at this one to see what’s there. I created this work months ago (February) for a monochrome exhibit originally scheduled for later this year (that show, like pretty much everything on the calendar, was cancelled due to the pandemic). I’d been admiring art I’d seen that works with subtle shades of black and wanted to give it a try. I didn’t post it then because it’s such a departure from what I normally do and, well, thought I’d make it a surprise.
Decided to post it now partly because, with shelter at home, my inventory of new photographic captures to work with is running awfully low, and partly because the timing seemed right for a work of this nature – that it made an appropriate statement.
I almost didn’t post it now because the timing seemed inappropriate as a work of this nature might be wildly misinterpreted.
Here’s the insecurity: As are most people living without their heads up their ass, I am appalled by the recent events in Minneapolis and sick to death of the institutional racism we take with a grain of salt in this country. That a black man cannot jog down the street without being shot while a bunch of weapons toting white Nazis can occupy the Michigan statehouse and get off scot-free speaks of the perverse reality of America today. Black Lives Matter is completely appropriate. The marches are completely appropriate, and while looting is never appropriate I understand it. Heck, they tried kneeling peacefully before sporting events and people didn’t like that either. But as it happens, I’m white (to use the line from the movie, “You’re old, you’re white, and you got no schtick”, and I’ll give a kiss to anyone who can identify the movie). As many of my white friends have been discussing, do we know remotely how to respond appropriately to this? Would any response of ours include subliminal elements of the same racism we purport to oppose? As an artist, a white guy, is it presumptive of me to suggest, even remotely, that a work of mine might impart a statement against racism?
On the other hand (not to make a pun), I’m also a one-arm guy. Not disabled, mind you, just a one-arm guy. No, I have no idea what it’s like to be a black man, but I know exactly what it’s like to step into a room and be immediately judged poorly due to the accident of birth; to have my abilities, indeed my very existence, deemed insufficient, and to find that the attitudes and actions of others reflect that judgement. That, I know extremely well.
Consider this work a reflection of anything people try to turn away from. Black, physically different, intellectually challenged, sexually diverse, racially diverse, religiously diverse; Everyone is one of us.
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This work is not photo art because it didn’t start with a photographic capture. This is digital art – images “drawn” onto a blank canvas. I always secure works I post online with a watermark, but in this case the watermark was the most prominent visual element, so I’ve reduced its size and placed it down in the lower left corner. Which is paramount to not protecting it at all. So please …
BTW, in the high-res version of this work the shades of black are even more subtle.
All my life I have had to learn to do things differently. To see the world differently.