Arrested Development showcases challenging depictions of the treatment and value of the black male body in reference to undefined and urban spaces by oil painter and Beloit College Professor of Visual Arts, George Williams (Beloit, WI), and multi-disciplinary artist and Maryland Institute of College of Art student Xavier Lightfoot (Milwaukee, WI).
Williams' large-scale oil paintings separate the black male bodies from site-specific backgrounds with the hope of allowing the audience evaluate and question its (un)conscious devaluing of black people.
Lightfoot's 2-D mixed media and sculptural installations are visual narrations of an 18-year-old Black and Native male navigating social issues such as police brutality, mass incarceration, gun violence, sexual orientation, racism, and religion in Milwaukee, WI, the city he calls home, but doesn’t reciprocate the love he projects.
GEORGE WILLIAMS JR.
AMERICAN, b. 1968
Positioning black bodies in the foreground separated from site-specific backgrounds, brings about an awareness of our positionality in environments our relationship with time, our relationship with our memories, and the subsequent creation of self-narratives. The act of recognizing the impact of self-narratives upon our lived experiences, and the intimacy of difference, instructs how difference informs our individual identities. By separating the black male bodies from specific backgrounds it is my hope that the audience will begin a evaluative process of questioning their (un)conscious devaluing of black people.
AMERICAN, b. 1994
I am an eighteen year-old Black and Native-American male from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a city that is most segregated in the country. A city I want to call home, but that city doesn't love me as I need it to. As I started to become more active in art, I decided to make the basis of my artwork about social injustices formed against my people and things surrounding my identity. Things such as police brutality, mass incarceration, gun violence, gender roles, my sexual orientation, and racism are some issues that I tackle, or want to involve in my artwork.
My more recent work addresses my struggles with my sexuality coming from two religious households and me exploring more into my Native cultural history because I don’t know enough of it. Furthermore, some of my work is a documentation of parts of America’s horrific history because it’s important people know of it. I want to confront the issues that many choose to ignore because certain conversations need to happen even though it might be uncomfortable for some. It is not my duty to make one feel completely comfortable when viewing my artwork. Some of my work can be seen as activist due to its content, but that is not all my art is. I learn from others and my own experiences and then I allow myself to be vulnerable when creating my work. From my own experiences as a male of color in Milwaukee, it has helped spark life into my art. For example, the multiple killings of unarmed black males in Milwaukee and nationwide such as Michael Brown and Eric Garner, urged me to create pieces concerning the issues with police brutality. Police brutality could directly affect others in my community and myself, so it makes me eager to create art on the issue in order to spread awareness of the inject things happening in our world today, and to show my physical connection to that problem.
I believe it is important to recognize the problems that others are facing and speak out for those who won’t do so themselves, sometimes one has to put themselves in other peoples shoes. My art should make people think about they view the world and at tines it may have a shock value to viewers. A shock value that is sometimes needed because of the immensity of the issues I tackle. I want to be a voice for the voiceless because I am not afraid to make a bold statement, regardless of others reactions. The art I create is more that something for myself, it can be used to spread a message to a larger audience. My art helps me to dig deeper into my worn identity and the history of America, understanding where I come from and what I’ve been through while living in America as a gay Black and Native-American male.