Artist Statement 2018
I Love You Three-Fifths
Disparities in representation are gaps that can be filled. They’re also abundances that can be destroyed or dispersed. Misrepresentation is another useful tactic. I’m choosing to misrepresent the white body by caricaturing and simplifying it in order to address the relationship between American blackness and whiteness. This “dis-representation” allows me to paint intimacy and interaction without committing to the Western ritual of rendering white bodies. Instantly, by rendering myself realistically, I become the primary subject. I am real while the white man is the joke of the painting. It’s a reversal of the minstrel. However, the intimacy with which I interact with the cartoons in the paintings points to a 21st century black American experience of subtle and soft racism in daily life. I operate in the paintings and in life as a marked subject, an outsider. I constantly juggle stereotype threats and here, the white cartoon is simply a stereotype. A cartoon finger in my mouth is akin to a so-called micro-aggression, and this hug wasn’t always safe. Slavery in America began in 1619, it’s four-hundred years later and I’m in love but it’s hard to forgive you. You didn’t do anything. Yet you benefit. Yet I wade through it. I was taught but I could’ve been told, I could’ve been told or I could’ve remembered. I could have remembered or I could have lived and died in it. I could have lived and died in it but I was taught instead. And you have your mommy read all of your essays for you before you turn them in. It’s complicated. But I love you. I love you three-fifths. It’s a compromise.