You know your were a colored child of the American inner city during the 1990s when Spike Lee Films were your primary interaction with white people besides your school teachers. Films such as Do The Right Thing and Jungle Fever were important statements of race relations, gender and class whose content was largely underrepresented and taboo in contemporary U.S. social discourse. So I was definitely excited when my friend Aja-Monet (at the last minute...haha) put me onto this honorary Spike Lee festival they are having out in Brooklyn at the end of this month that includes poetry, film, and art.
So i put together the following three paintings in three days before the submission deadline:
The first work is entitled "Jungle Fever circa 1960" is a re-work of the print advertisements of the film Jungle Fever depicting the intertwined hands of Barack Obama, Sr. and Ann Dunham, the parents of President Barack H. Obama. Though the actual film is a product of the 1990s, its subject matter (interracial unions, especially black male/white female couples) had been largely taboo in American social discourse and in some eras of U.S. history, outright banned through miscegenation laws. The painting is a critique of the naivete of such thought and the implied inferiority of children of "mixed blood".
The second work "Black Cliffnotes" (2009), below, resulted from a discussion with a White friend who commented that his understanding of the "black experience" could be achieved through mass mediated culture, BET, and black films and depicts some of Lee's films of the last 20 years. Originally the painting was supposed to resemble an evolutionary chart beginning with a small drowning hand representing the Hurricane Katrina documentary "When the Levees Broke" and finishing with Spike Lee dressed as Mars Blackmon/Kobe Bryant (from the documentary "Doin' Work) but it did not come out the way I envisioned it.
Since, we were allowed three submissions so I decided to recycle an old painting from 2005 entitled "Joker Sambo", below, which was a critique of the contemporary black condition in the United States as well as my realization that my business degree taught me how to be a well-dressed 9-to-5 slave rather than an independent thinker. The plantation has been replaced by 40 foot skyscraper and check-to-check living because it is cheaper to make a man fend for themselves and voluntary join the field than to provide their sustenance while working on it...