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born/raised/ Baltimore Md. had an uncle who was self taught. Although he
never lived his life as an artist, he helped me to develop my artistic
ability. I was very young but I loved cooking as well as art. So my ambitions
were torn between baking and art!
Then when I was grown up /about 12 /I
decided to be an artist even though I wasn't sure what an artist really was.
I survived high school by making sure that I always had an art class each
semester. Then was selected for several after school art programmes, one
being sponsored by Maryland Institute College of Art. I took these classes
Lloyd send a caption for here.
Eventually participated in the Model Cities Cultural Arts
Project during the following three summers, where we were paid to make art we
could keep as well as art for public use, such as murals for playgrounds.
I enrolled in the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia in 1976. At first I
Wanted to make portrait paintings but then I realized that I could
never make great portraits because I didn't care about individuality
that much. Yet I didn't trust abstract art at all.
I spent my third year in Rome, Italy. It was a completely different
environment /good to be away from my own cultural influences and to see the
world in a different light/ returned to the USA and graduated two years
later/ unconsciously moving towards performance work. I'd pick things up
from the street/incorporated them as objects attached to or on my paintings.
So, the paintings became more like sculpture/
heavier and heavier.
Then I realized I was interested or more interested in
the conversations/human interactions REAL TIME EXPERIENCE- with people on the
street than with the process of collecting and object making/paintings.
I owed another student a favor and so I wrote a performance for her right
before left Philadelphia. It was called "H2O blues" and contained references
to Watergate, and the proverb about the danger of
throwing stones while living in a glass house. A woman slowly and seductively
dressed in black clothing, ogles/teases the audience like a prostitute in the
booth of a peep show. Then at the sound of crashing glass and the scratching
of the repeated, phrase "just how blind America" as she fell to the
ground. Another person then chalked her outline on the ground, after which
the woman got up and walked away. The remainder was just the chalked
silhouette on the ground of where she had fallen.
I moved to Seattle to study under Jacob Lawrence at the
University of Washington. The sculpture department didn't accept
performance work as an art form and so for my first critique with my
tutors I sat tied by rope to a chair with 3 chairs positioned in front
of me for the three professors. Only the visiting professor saw that I was
dealing with institutions, restrictions and power relations and at the time
(due to his limited interaction with African Americans) announced his
surprise that I was articulate! At the end, one
professor asked if he could untie me, to which I said "no", adding
that I could untie myself. It seemed then, that at least they were
open to my performance work/ a day later I was
to leave the school. As the contention mounted, I was denied access to
materials and tools, Posters for my performances were torn down then I was
physically threatened in my studio one night. The next day The Head of the
Department stated, "Things like that don't happen at the University of
Washington." Despite this hostility, I continued to make performances. One
called the "Trust Walk" was a high profile piece and "Atonal Drawing for
Atonal Drawing for Muddy Waters
For the Atonal Drawing for Muddy Waters (Muddy Waters had just died) I'd left signs around inviting people to meet me at 10 pm with
a flashlight and a sheet for a mid-night performance. A flash was set off,
blinding everyone for about 5 minutes. The individuals, each wearing a sheet, and using their flash light as guide
followed me through a park for about 30 minutes and then without warning I
left them to themselves.
Atonal Drawing for Muddy Waters
I accompanied my wife, Tavoria to Japan and in 1986 where I made performances
in rice fields, dressed in a suit I made out of rice, I planted rice, as an
act of shaministic "renewal".
In 1994 we moved to New York city where I did
a performance incorporating sign language for Summerstage Central Park and
another collaborating with artist Homer Jackson, entitled High Flying where
the sneaker was employed as stand-in for Black male masculinity at the
institute for contemporary art in Philadelphia Pa.
Arts Dialogue, Dintel 20, NL 7333 MC, Apeldoorn, The Netherlands