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"Black Indians in Space: The Constellation" by James Montford at Yellow Peril
Mixed-media collages exploring African American and Native American stereotypes and identity by James Montford
“My creative process and studio practice involve scholarly exploration conducted in tandem with the development of an aesthetic that seeks to convey a social construct. I am focused on creating an art that considers societal justice,” states Montford. “I do not see the work as political, but as being more closely related to ‘a conversation’
Montford's art is known for its provocative use of racial slurs and stereotypes in relation to blacks, whites, and Native Americans. His interpretations of the concept of Holocaust open up the discursive space for his audience to think in terms of extermination. For example, in one gallery performance he imitated a lynching, in 1995 he protested the absence of artists of color in a Hartford, Connecticut exhibit by scrawling "No Coons Here" on the gallery wall, and in 2003 he posed as a live cigar store Indian in front of a statue of Abe Lincoln in Buffalo, New York.
According to Montford, his ongoing project is to research what is “Black Indian.” The work created from that exploration serves as the basis for an extended dialogue. “The work is part of a global dialogue,” he explains, “which seeks to question the canon by engaging in the deconstruction of perceived cultural constructs and by examining oppression.”
“There is an effectively ambiguous nature to the work that focuses the discussion on subjugation while still being interested in resolving formal issues,” says Montford. “I am acutely interested in and fascinated by the issues raised by the work in addressing false societal constructs – racism as it affects community and environments-
The opening reception for “Black Indians in Space: The Constellation”
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