A. Alexander is the continuation of a short series I began in 2012 titled "High Yellow." The term high yellow refers to the skin completion of individuals from African descent. However, due to interracial relationship within the history or lineage of that person their complexion is often much lighter than the "average" Afro-Carribbean individual or even has a similar completion of an European person. The idea behind this series was to question all of the elements that define race and ethnic identity. If an individual of the Black community is "high yellow" then how must they define their "blackness?" The portrait is a close friend who is of Caribbean descent and who might have struggled with his ethnic and culturally belonging as often times his views of himself differ from those of mainstream society concerning what defines his "blackness."
August 16th 2012- 1 September Pair No. 2
Preliminary sketch of female portrait (Left)
After finishing the painting "They Came in Pairs," I became increasingly interested in exploring the concept of paired slaves on the Middle Passage. I found myself obsessively wondering about the couples inevitably torn apart by slavery. Conversely, I also thought about the couples who were forced together as a part of the selective "breeding" of the strongest slaves to create strong "offspring" that would fetch the highest bids during slaves' auction.
Coincidently, my exploration of these ideas paralleled the coverage of the 2012 Olympic athletes. There were several stories investigating what created the best athlete from a genetics perspective and the observation of this selective breeding lent itself to theories of the lingering genetic makeup of our current Olympians.
In continuance with the theme of pairs or pairing I will create a series of paired portraits while honoring them with the dignified and almost majestic portrayal. The female portrait below is the first of the series. The composition recalls a drawing I created a few years ago.
Portrait of a Man - Profile
Acrylic on Canvas 20" x 30" 12 April - 14 April 2012
His face Shone II
Acrylic on Canvas. 16'' x 20" April 5- 9, 2012
His Face Shone I
Acrylic on Canvas. 16'' x 20" April 1, 2012
Bound Woman Acrylic on canvas 2'x4'. February 15th - March 25th
They Came in Pairs Acrylic on Canvas, 4' x 6'6" January - February 2012
I have always been intrigued by the Bible Story of Noah's Ark as it depicts the idea of clearing the world of sin with a flood and starting anew. What interests me most is thought of animals from around the world came to the Ark in pairs to accompany Noah and his family. These coupling of animals were chosen to repopulate the world after the flood. I wanted to draw a parallel between the animals that would inevitably be the strongest of their species to be chosen to repopulate the world to the on-boarding of slaves as they entered slave ships to embark on the Middle Passage. In both instances only the strongest would survive or would be chosen to embark on their "journey." I wanted to explore the concept of viewing these slaves as animals as many believed them to be subhuman. Though there is an obvious difference in the intended context, in both instances the "passengers" of the vessel serve a purpose of repatriating and reproducing for the benefit of the "master."
Portrait of a Man December 2011
Often I find myself shying away from "pure, frontal portraits." I am uncertain for the reasoning but I suspect it's my affinity for the human physique rather than the portrait that I find most interesting. Weeks ago I began repeatedly drawing this portrait of a man with elongated features with an open yet earnest gaze. Below are the fruits of these initial drawings.
Cloaked in Sin series continues: Running Scared September 8th 2011
In March I took a trip to Amsterdam with a friend. If you have ever been to Amsterdam you will be familiar with the art district- a square mile in the heart of the city that is packed with a number of museums (my favorite being the Van Gogh Museum).
Anytime I visit a museum I bring a tiny sketchbook to take notes on any of the pieces I've seen or to sketch an idea to reference later. It was in the lobby of the Van Gogh Museum that I sketched this image on the left: A maimed, seated figure with outstretched arms on a pillar or pedestal of some sort. This idea was the inspiration for my current piece.
After my initial sketch of the idea I copied a larger version of the original drawing into my sketchbook. In this version I have added in a cloak or veil that hangs behind the figure. At this stage I am still working with visual composition, finalizing subject matter and determining scale. This painting like many others will be larger that life in size. The canvas I have stretched is approximately 7' x 4'.
Painting in Progress: September 2011 To enlarge please click on each image
All rights on images reserved by Ambrice Miller 2011-2015