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Ongoing Research Projects

I See No Ships:
An Ongoing investigation of the theory  of perceptual blindness

What is I See No Ships the Project?

Drawing from techniques of collage,  found poetry, painting, drawing, and film I See No Ships explores the relationships of cultural perception, cultural commodification, and trade. 

 

Within this work I incorporate multiple forms of media to  themes of history, identity, religion, and inherited social perceptions.  The choice to use a range of media is a  reflection the overwhelming amount of cultural misinformation and misappropriation our technologically advanced world now offers. I'm exploring the inequity of authorship and the techniques used to form our understanding of what “ethnic” culture is in relation to the norm. This process is not simply about highlighting racial disharmony but rather addressing the cultural imbalance that stems from a denial of self-authorship and authority.

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The Myth of the Invisible Ships

Images from I See No Ships Series

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The title I See No Ships is derived from a story that has long circulated that as Christopher Columbus approached the coast of the “New World,” Native Americans staring out at the water—straight at his ships could not see them. The theory is that when Columbus’s ships were approaching the Caribbean islands the Native people could not see them because they had no knowledge that such technology existed, and the idea of such a thing was too much for their primitive brains to process so they were blind to the ships.   I See No Ships explores how individual and/or institutional predispositions to patriarchy affect notions of religion, race, class, gender, sexuality, and nation.

Image Credit: from article Rethink Beyond Your Own Reality by Chris Gagnon Posted January 22, 2015 

Looking at some of the media:
I  See No Ships Project

Digital Erasures:

Incorporating techniques from painting, drawing I use digital erasure to explore aesthetic relations of slavery and post-slavery images, revisiting well-worn illustrations of plantations landscapes and maritime motifs I reflect on three themes of America in the 19th century: discovery, exploration, and settlement.  I am interested in revised historical perspectives within which racial and cultural disparity and disharmony are acknowledged and essential to the understanding of self.

Searching for Areas of Blackness 1, 2012 Digital C print 24" x 36"

Searching for Areas of Blackness 2, 2012 Digital C print 24" x 36"

Searching for Areas of Blackness 3, 2012 Digital C print 24" x 36"

Past Do 2015 Digital print 40" x 60"

Black and White Value Studies 1 of 2 2015 Digital print 60x84

Black and White Value Studies 2 of 2 2015 Digital print 60x84

Untitled, 2015 Digital Print 27x36

Illuminating the current terrain in which we are deployed 2015 Digital print with Acrylic "16 x 24"

Illuminating the current terrain in which we are deployed #2 2015 Digital print with Acrylic "16 x 24"

Illuminating the current terrain in which we are deployed #5 2015 Digital print with Acrylic "16 x 24"

Illuminating the current terrain in which we are deployed #4 2015 Digital print with Acrylic "16 x 24"

Illuminating the current terrain in which we are deployed #3 2015 Digital print with Acrylic "16 x 24"

I See No Ships Video Still

I See No Ships Video Still

I See No Ships Video Still

I See No Ships Video Still

I See No Ships Video Still

I See No Ships Video Still

I See No Ships Video Still

I See No Ships Video Series:

Drawing from techniques of collage and found poetry I See No Ships  Video Series explores the relationship of cultural perception, cultural commodification, and trade. Taking words, phrases, even whole passages from popular and material culture and reframing them.  Imparting new meaning through the cutting, splicing, and reinterpreting of elements.

 

Within this work, I address inequity and the techniques used to form our understanding of what “ethnic” culture is in relation to the norm. This process is not simply about highlighting racial disharmony but rather addressing the cultural imbalance that stems from a denial of self-authorship and authority.

Sculptural Works:

 

Within this work, I use the motif of the ship to explore the notion of a diminishment or erasure of  humanity.

I am interested in the internal tensions and discourses that come with navigating the conceptual, representational and symbolic landmines of mediated interactions and representation.  My work does not seek to find a final thought or point of conclusion but rather locate and highlight the varieties and complexities of interior and exterior dialogues that are constantly happening within our objective and subjective reality.

Founders Table, 2014 Wood, aluminum, motion sensor, motor, and toy ships Dimensions Variable

Founders Table (detail), 2014 Wood, aluminum, motion sensor, motor, and toy ships Dimensions Variable

Championship Mixed Media Dimensions Variable

Reflection Must Have Confused Them (off) Model ship, lights, and mirror 6" x 6" x 8"

Reflection Must Have Confused Them (on) Model ship, lights, and mirror 6" x 6" x 8"

Reflection Must Have Confused Them (off) Model ship, lights, and mirror 6" x 6" x 8"

Reflection Must Have Confused Them (on) Model ship, lights, and mirror 6" x 6" x 8"

Untitled, 2012 Acrylic on Canvas

Untitled Acrylic on Canvas

trans-Atlantic identities, 1713--1783 (detail), 2012 Acrylic on Canvas 70" x 40"

trans-Atlantic identities, 1713--1783 #3, 2012 Acrylic on Canvas 70" x 40"

Constellations, 2012 Chalkboard,gouache, acrylic 1 of 5

Constellations, 2012 Chalkboard,gouache, acrylic 2 of 5

Constellations, 2012 Chalkboard,gouache, acrylic 3 of 5

Constellations, 2012 Chalkboard,gouache, acrylic 4 of 5

Constellations, 2012 Chalkboard,gouache, acrylic 5 of 5

Constellations, 2012 Chalkboard,gouache, acrylic

Painting & Drawing:

I explore aesthetic relations of slavery and post-slavery images, revisiting well-worn illustrations of plantations landscapes and maritime motifs I reflect on three themes of America in the 19th century: discovery, exploration, and settlement.   I am interested in revised historical perspectives within which racial and cultural disparity and disharmony are acknowledged and essential to the historical understanding of self. Developing my own narratives for what the subjective minds of colonial plunder might have witnessed I attempt to add a counter perspective to the celebrated depictions of a romantic American landscape as a pastoral setting, where human beings and nature coexist peacefully

Digital Erasure Installation & Reference Images:

The international cotton trade provides the best example of the damaging effects of commodity subsidies. Because American cotton producers get more federal subsidies with each additional bushel they produce, current farm programs encourage overproduction with the surplus dumped on the international market, lowering prices and undercutting the livelihoods of millions of poor farmers around the world.

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From Can't See in the Morning to Can't See at Night 2015 Digital print with black sand and gouache 40" x 60"

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Picking cotton in Oklahoma, USA, in the 1890s

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trans-Atlantic identities, 1713--1783 Installation Images:

trans-Atlantic identities, 1713--1783
trans-Atlantic identities, 1713--1783

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trans-Atlantic identities, 1713--1783
trans-Atlantic identities, 1713--1783

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At the worlds end
At the worlds end

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Sunday Service Series
2014 - present

What is Sunday Service

Sunday Service consists of a collection of miniaturized models of outdoor church signage used by churches to make an announcement to the general public. The signage consists of paraphrased titles of sermons protesting discrimination against African Americans. Social reformer, farmer, preacher, and civil-rights pioneer, Vernon Johns who was Dr. Martin Luther King’s predecessor at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, in Montgomery, Alabama authored the sermons and presented these titles on the exterior signage before every church service in the 1940s

Vernon Johns Church Signs
Vernon Johns Church Signs

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When the Rapist is White Sunday Service Series 2013 Mixed Media 11" x 14"

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The Men Who Let Us Drink Sunday Service Series 2013 Mixed Media 11" x 14"

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Its Safe To Murder Negroes Sunday Service Series 2013 Mixed Media 11" x 14"

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Sunday Service Installation Images

American social reformer and preacher Dr. Vernon Johns (1892 – 1965), considered by some as the father of the American Civil Rights Movement, was a man known rarely to mince his words. Assertive and unapologetic, he would display blunt and often controversial sermon titles on the exterior signage of his church (Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama) before services began. Now Southern California artist and curator Chris Christion has created a series of work using the titles of John's sermons, titled 'Sunday Service'; and these sermons written in the 40s are relevant now more than ever. 

 

- Alexander Aplerku, AFROPUNK Contributor

 

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