Artist’s statement

No audible words emit from the painted image; yet a silent visual language projects from the still frame. Rigid and without expression a man stands upright to become the punctuation to his own statement. The viewer may wonder why he remains silent. Does his oppressor demand it, or is there more power in his stillness?

The vertical structure of the design denotes a principled stand, yet the figure’s stance is slightly off center, accentuating the feeling of unease and promoting a premonition that something is wrong. The wall behind the man limits the depth of field bringing him close to the viewer, confronting issues easily dismissed. The literal wall in the composition alludes to the metaphorical wall he has reached. Does the wall represent his own self imposed limitations, or does it represent the boundary society has placed around him? Perhaps he is free, unfettered from the bonds behind him. Or maybe he has been backed against this edifice. Does he face his liberation or his own execution?

We know little about this man except that he stands before us naked and nearly impassive. There are no vilifying marks that identify him only the clear indicators of his race: his hair and the pigment of his skin. Whatever this man faces, we know only that he faces us.

And so, we face our own prejudices.

I do not seek to express a strong personal opinion regarding the important topics of discrimination, racial harmony or socioeconomic inequality. Assumptions and misinterpretations can and will be projected onto the work regardless of my intentions for creating the image. This piece was not crafted for the purpose of self-expression, but rather in hope of inspiring a peaceful discourse about these very tough issues. My desire is that this painting invokes honest, hopeful and humane conversation; so that where bullets and teargas were once exchanged a new dialog may begin.

Living just miles from Ferguson, Missouri, I know how hastily lines are drawn and how quickly an injustice can provide justification for another. Like all polarized conflicts the middle often appears to be vacant, but there are many, like the man in this image, who stand in-between willing to speak but without a voice. If we were to meet him there words could be spoken not shouted from a distance. And if those words are refused may we then stand, not in provocation, but in peaceful protest.




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