This body of work seeks new methods to explore the contemporary African – American portrait. As artists both addressing a new visual representation of black identity while using images that reference stereotype and cultural appropriation we seek to create images from within the culture (and subcultures) were addressing.
The history of African – American imagery is rich in symbolism and an exploration of materials and cultural appropriation, particularly where it refers to the use of the figure. From adapting traditional African images to the combination and adaptation of a western aesthetic, the influence of Outsider Art, the images have continued to transform. As we deal with more contemporary issues the materials become reflective of that aspect as well, they address concerns of physicality, scale, and accurate translation of image to concept. Painting and photography mirror much of that same dichotomy as they have sat on opposite ends of the artistic spectrum for much of their existence constantly addressing the traditional idea of the “high vs. low” arts. Within all of these aspects, stereotype and assumption play important roles in how a viewer relates to the world around them.
The secondary role of this work is to examine the nature of evolving perception as it relates to race and gender, particularly ideas of perceived superiority. Overall the goal of the images is to positively empower or tear down stereotypes (depending on the image) thereby giving dignity to the figures within the images according to their handling, while confronting the viewer in a new way. In the end, this confronts the viewer with a new way of seeing and asks them to reconsider the manner in which they address stereotypes of race, gender, and the barriers they create.
Digital Pigments Prints by Armon Means & Paintings by Derrock Burnett