Kerry James Marshall is an American artist who is best known for his vibrant, large-scale paintings which explore the African-American experience. His work often focuses on the history of Black people in America, and the ways in which they have been excluded from the narrative of art history. Marshall's work has been exhibited in many prominent galleries and museums around the world, and he has been awarded the MacArthur Genius Grant in recognition of his contributions to the art world.
What is the most famous quote by Kerry James Marshall ?
I tend to think having that extreme of color, that kind of black, is amazingly beautiful...and powerful. What I was thinking to do with my image was to reclaim the image of blackness as an emblem of power.— Kerry James Marshall
What can you learn from Kerry James Marshall (Life Lessons)
- Kerry James Marshall's work emphasizes the importance of representation and visibility of African American people in the art world.
- His work also celebrates the beauty of African American culture and history, while challenging the traditional narrative of what art is and who can be an artist.
- Through his work, Marshall encourages us to think critically about the way we view art, and the power of art to create meaningful change.
The most charming Kerry James Marshall quotes that are life-changing and eye-opening
Following is a list of the best Kerry James Marshall quotes, including various Kerry James Marshall inspirational quotes, and other famous sayings by Kerry James Marshall.
I think the museum should be an arena in which ideals can hash it out, fight it out, tooth and nail, for attention.
Part of the history of black people in the western hemisphere, in some ways, has been fleeing from this notion that they were black. So I can represent an ideal, and with that, you can demonstrate that there is nothing to be afraid of, nothing to run from, and that, in fact, a good deal of beauty that resides there.
Artwork operates on two different levels: On one level there's artwork as a mode of expressivity, and then there's the other side, where the image is a construction that is meant to engage in a discursive field in order to preform a particular function.
I came in making choices about how I deploy aesthetics and imagery strategically. It seems to me that's the only legitimate way of making work.
The first freedom is to be in possession of yourself - to own yourself, to not be subject to the will of somebody else. In a capitalist society, that means having a certain economic wherewithal so that you can do what you wish to do without having to ask permission.
The privileged position of whiteness doesn't allow for someone with one drop of Negro blood to be considered white, which allows whiteness to be a fairly pure category while blackness has to absorb an expansive reality of representation.
Comics were a place where captivating images lit your imagination and showed you that you can create new kinds of people and worlds.
What I preserved in the figures [at Invisible Man] are those white eyes and white teeth, because that's still connected to the way in which blackness, in the extreme, has been stigmatized and the way it was often joked that you couldn't see black people in the dark until they had their eyes open or were smiling.
Expressive quotes by Kerry James Marshall
If you have a dream: Number one, make a plan.
And then execute that plan. And there will be failures along that line. Don't let that discourage you. Because failure is part of the process ... make the necessary adjustments and you can be successful at whatever you do.
In some places you can find an extreme blackness used as a descriptive.
I also take into account historical realities that some of this range in color is the legacy of white supremacy.
The moment you introduce difference into a museum, then the privileged space is contested, and under the most ideal circumstances what all artists want is the chance to be competitive. That's what I think the museum is supposed to be.
The appearance is the allusion of abstraction when in fact I am in control of every aspect of that symmetry.
When I started, I was aware of using the black as a rhetorical device.
It's understanding that black people come in a wide range of colors, but you find instances in a lot of black literature in which the blackness is used as a metaphor.
Just like in the art museum, and notions of beauty and pleasure, if the hero is always a white guy with a squared jaw or pretty woman with big breasts, then kids start thinking that's how it's supposed to be. Part of the problem was that black comic book artists were making super heroes with the same pattern as the white super heroes. When you read a lot of those comics, the black super heroes don't seem to have anything to do.
When State Way Gardens and The Robert Taylor Homes were being torn down, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to use that as a backdrop for the development of a super hero narrative.
Black painters have done all kinds of work.
It's the treatment of forms they engage in-that's what determines the value of the work, not whether you call them a black artist or not.
Quotations by Kerry James Marshall that are colorful and iconic
Comics also led a lot of young people to science fiction.
For black people in the western hemisphere, if you can't generate a mythology that creates models of heroism and power out of the mythology that you had, then that means that somehow the mythology you had was not only feeble and weak, but that you are ultimately a powerless people. That's a notion that, I think, that can't be accepted.
Abstraction and representation are supposed to be going down two very different paths, one sociological and the other aesthetic.
I want to create music that you can just vibe to.
Put in your car and just you know like you roll all the windows up and you're like dancing and you just don't know why you're dancing but the music just makes you move.
If you're constantly being reminded of the ways in which your history and your narrative as a people were rooted in loss and decay, then you're in deep trouble. Once you make a certain kind of peace with the past, then you should be completely oriented towards speculation about the future.
In [Ralph] Ellison's case, it's more psychological than it is phenomenal, and it's conditioned by anger, animosity, and lack of desire to engage with the black body. There was always simultaneity that had nothing to do with visuality. You can be there and not be there at the same time and be fully visible all the time. That's what really struck me about Ellison .
Part of what I am dealing with, with this blackness, is asking the question, "Where are those black people, who are as dark as the description of a young black boy that Solomon Northup gives in 12 Years A Slave?" He describes the young black 14-year-old boy as "blacker than any crow." You have to question if he is using that metaphorically or as a descriptive?
I still make paintings and use the figure;
it's hard to do and hard to succeed. On some levels, because I am working with black figures and black pigment, it's even harder because I have to be more responsible for the image. I try to be really careful about the presence the figure projects.
There's a beauty shop companion called School of Beauty, School of Culture at the Birmingham Museum of Art. I got an email that said a couple had a guerrilla wedding in front of that picture. They slipped into the museum with a preacher and had their wedding ceremony in front of it. It turns out that the woman is a beautician and the man is a barber, they had seen that picture, and they said it was the perfect place to get married.
[My picture A Portrait of the Artist as a Shadow of His Former Self ] was a way of demonstrating that there was a broad range of possibilities and fairly unlimited utility for a black figure that didn't have to comprise its blackness in order to preserve a place in the field of representation.
Sometimes when I can't communicate that I'm frustrated, I'll just grab my guitar and I can play out that emotion and be able to cope with whatever is going on. So even being able to, like I said, share this gift with so many other people, it's definitely very therapeutic. It helps me just to focus and to be able to kind of get out those emotions that I'm having without reacting in such a way that's not acceptable in society.
No one has a right to occupy the privileged position all the time, so it should be contested. It should always be messy in there.
I think we need to remember...that a lot of energy was put into changing things to get us to the point where we are now. But being where we are now doesn't mean that we don't have to put in the same kind of energy to get us to a place where we ought to be.
You can describe [Portrait of the Artist as a Shadow of His Former Self] as a manifesto of sorts. I saw it as a pivotal turn, a work that really led me down the avenues that brought me to where I am. That picture was the vehicle that helped me clarify a lot of things and I began to understand that I wanted to do.
I try to tell a story when I'm playing.
I try to make an emotional connection when I'm playing versus before I played just to play. Now there's a sense of purpose of why I play, of how I play. So people can actually feel what I'm saying to them.
I want people to understand that this is a very calibrated image [Portrait of the Artist as a Shadow of His Former Self ], where point by point, very little is left to chance.
The condition of visibility as it relates to black people was crucial. Connected to that, I've always been interested in science fiction and horror films and was acutely aware of the political and social implications of Ralph Ellison's description of invisibility as it relates to black people, as opposed to the kind of retinal invisibility that H.G. Wells described in his novel Invisible Man.
I just thought someone has to figure out how to break through that barrier and create a narrative for a black super hero story to unfold at the same scale as something like Star Wars. Rythm Mastr is about producing a narrative of a hero engaged in a struggle as complicated as those other stories. The catalyst for it was the beginning of the demolition of public housing in Chicago.
I decided that the whole idea of what it means to be an artist was that somehow you are ontologically oriented toward poverty : "As an artist, you don't make money." I had to figure out some kind of way to guarantee that I'd be able to continue doing the work that I wanted to do, whether I made money from the work I was doing or not.
My own personal sound is really progressive. It's like a mixture of gospel, pop, neo-soul, R&B. It's like a huge gumbo. If you're eating gumbo you grab a whole like cup full of whatever. You're getting a whole bunch of stuff that makes this amazing food in your mouth. So that's essentially kind of like what my sound is.
Before people outside of the Western European tradition started asking to be in there, the people who were accumulating objects for the museum were perfectly satisfied with the narrative they were constructing.
Like a lot of young people who wanted to be artists, comics were a gateway for me.
In some ways you still have to buy your freedom, but that's because you live in a social structure that's organized around capital, and capital does equate with a certain kind of freedom, especially if you can start to generate capital on your own.
Music is the universal language, it evokes an emotion in all of us. That, we can all look at each other and we may not speak the same language, but that song or that melody can make us feel the same thing. And we can look at each other and agree and be like, "that did something for us". It makes us feel unified and connected.
What I was trying to construct was relative symmetry, where it seems clear that the shapes have arrived through consideration.
I don't see those paintings as abstractions, especially because they are emblems of the inkblot. They aren't smashed together; they are constructed shape-by-shape, layer-by-layer, like any other picture.
It's forcing the issue of perception by rendering an image that is just at the edge of perception, which in someway forces you to look more closely and for you to adjust your vision so you can see in the dark.
A lot of stuff that I dealt with - music was my serenity, like kind of my safe place, my haven that I would just use in order to really just get away from the things that I saw every day. To kind of erase the things that I saw. So I stayed playing.
If you look at the image [ Portrait of the Artist as a Shadow of His Former Self ], it treads on a kind of popular stereotypical image of the black figure, in both its flatness and slightly comic edge. To take that image as a starting point and to render it in a proto-classical medium, like egg tempera, and then use a repertoire of classical compositional devices to make the picture was a way of setting up an engagement with art history.
One of the things I recognized early on, doing whatever studies of black history I have, is that even though black folks were transported as slaves, into servitude, when they were carried out of Africa they left empty-handed, but they didn't leave empty-headed. They carried with them the culture they knew, the culture they had, and that culture reconstituted itself in all the places they went.
I really just want to be an inspiration. I'm a regular guy, that had a dream, that came from a small town, that wanted to play guitar and just liked playing. I want to encourage people.