Culture Clash

I created prominent forms using patterns from West African textiles. At the same time, the minimalist backgrounds come from the work of abstract expressionist artists. This juxtaposition makes explicit connections to both art and art history.
My appropriation of famous Western abstract artwork as a background is significant to me. Art history has upheld that genre as the pinnacle of what art can achieve. As a commentary, the Abstract Art backgrounds are not the main focus. Instead, they act as scenery. In addition, the collage of abstract art in my work is an intentional reference to artists like Picasso, who appropriated African motives in his work. The reverse is happening in these images: I am intentionally commandeering Western art to create a new dialogue with a different narrative and point of view. The protagonists and the focal points are the forms in the foreground, which resemble heads. They are roundish, have jagged edges, and resemble African masks. Also, they are not uniform and appear to have been crushed, used, and manipulated, symbolizing Black Americans’ history. The symbolism of these juxtapositions further references how Western civilizations have exploited black culture, land, resources, and people.
Lastly, these pieces are also a reflection of Abstract Art in general. One can not help but wonder when an abstract shape started to take meaning.

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