VIP Symbols Project
In this project, our advanced Art and Entrepreneurship participants studied the work and methods of contemporary artist Kehinde Wiley. Wiley recruits African American men, in their casual street clothes, to be painted in poses that mimic the priests and kings depicted in Baroque and Renaissance artwork. The race and dress of Wiley's subjects subvert traditional representations of powerful leaders. The youth artists considered ways in which they are powerful and meaningful participants in their lives, and the world, and chose a representative pose. The first step was to create pencil drawings from these photographs. Next, students appropriated the symbol of French and Italian monarchies, the Fleur-de-lis, and changed its design to be a personal emblem. These designs were then carved in linoleum and printed. Using Photoshop, the artists combined the linoleum printed symbols with a photograph of their drawing.
Teaching Artists: Laura Schneider and Michael Watson
Statement: I chose this thinking pose to show that you have choices in life and that someone is always watching over you no matter what. I made a background symbol about life's choices inspired by the symbols in Kehinde Wiley's portraits. The handcuffs represent having no freedombeing a slave locked up behind bars for life. The diploma symbolizes focusing on getting a good education instead of being locked up and getting a college degree. For me, the art brush is a way to explain and accomplish your goals. This work shows that I am powerful in all ways.