Arrest: the Politics and Transcendence of Aesthetic Arrest Qua Protest

Recently, given the fomenting protests following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery (amongst countless others), much discussion has erupted amongst contemporary artist-activists about the proper place for art and the aestheticization of politics. This is, of course, by no means a novel conversation. Historically, the aestheticization of politics has been disparaged […]

Erase, Tear, Gouge, Replace: Mark Bradford Excavates the Present

What to write about Mark Bradford? His ascent into the art world seems to border on the magical.  His story makes for a perfect Hollywood movie if Hollywood was inclined to turn its lens to artists more often, which it does not. Mark Bradford is African-American, born and raised in South Los Angeles, in the same […]

America Goddam

Can’t you see it Can’t you feel it It’s all in the air I can’t stand the pressure much longer Somebody say a prayer Alabama’s gotten me so upset Tennessee made me lose my rest And everybody knows about Mississippi goddam -Nina Simone In 1963, Nina Simone wrote this song in protest of the atrocities […]

Q&A: Kiah Celeste and Material Agency

The study of aesthetic materialism–visually studying raw material for its own ability to be ‘beautiful’–has often had some problematic connotations for me. The ability to strictly utilize specific materials because of their aesthetic power sometimes feels like a superpower: a skill in rationalizing pulling yourself out of the trauma of human history in order to […]

Profile, Cedric Cox

Artist and native Cincinnatian Cedric Cox  considers his work “A spiritual testimony to the visual experiences that arouse my senses and my synapses, as I examine and interpret the world around me, quietly and loudly.”  Artists in any field would be the first to understand how something could be both quiet and loud; my own […]

Celebration and Dissent: Basquiat in the Time of Black Lives Matter

Last semester an English comp student of mine used to stay after class to have further conversations with me. We typically talked about music and capitalism as his work was intensely focused on hip-hop and social justice. His final paper was about the work of a New York based Haitian rapper named Mach Hommy. Mach […]

Near My Parents’ House: Kara Walker and the Scourge of History

Near my parents’ house in western Georgia is a mountain made of stone. Aptly called Stone Mountain, this site features various hiking trails which the citizens of Atlanta use to escape the hustle-and-bustle of their city. At its peak, persistent climbers are rewarded with a view of untouched treetops stretching on as far as the […]