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bkcolejames  

 

I make abstract paintings about identity. Not the categorizing of identity, but identity as an ever growing state of being. Identity that is impacted by environment and biology as well as signifiers that are internally defined. My work is about the delicate and grotesque ways in which identity grows. Each painting is composed of a tree branch and hanging fruit. I remove the tree trunk and root system to create fragmented abstract images of growth.

I am interested in the way conflicting visual information is processed. The context of the paintings can be found within the materials. As these materials are perceived, their purpose and their application begin to conflict. Their original purpose and viscosity, combined with their placement on the satin surface create the spaces where the concepts of identity grow. In the paintings I apply tar directly onto the satin added to long pours of slick shiny plastic. On some of the layers there are soft patches of felt beneath paint and tar. In others, there are large sections of glitter attached directly to rubber. I treat the materials respectfully and take advantage of the connotations of their purpose.

By combining materials like tire rubber and glitter I am referencing the absorption and reflection of light. I am also using them as reckless signifiers of consumerism and sexuality which also connects them to the history of rubber and to the use of glitter within contemporary painting. I could continue to expand this line of discourse with these materials and add to them tar, felt, acrylic, paper, satin and airbrush. The formal structure of the paintings also reduce them to the parameters of abstract painting. It is because of this duality the paintings are subjected to perceptions.

My goal is to draw attention to the buoyancy of perception. I want the viscosity of the paintings to ask viewers to become clearly aware of what they are seeing. I want the work to be multi-narrative, and draw attention to the viewers perception of imagery, content and materials. Combining materials in this way allows for new attachments to be made between what things are and how they work as marks on a surface. The work is like a double-edged sword that mediates between the extremes of the grotesque and the delicate.

Each material possesses a tactile quality that I consider the unescapable truths of identity. When I create the work, I think about my own experiences as a an African American and compare them to the perceptions of identity within the mainstream. I hope that the materials I use are identified and new perceptions of identity can be cultivated, discarded, and absorbed like the strange fruit of a deep rooted tree.

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