“Untitled (Altgeld Gardens),” 1995 Acrylic and collage on canvas
“Our Town,” 1995 Acrylic and collage on unstretched canvas
“Souvenir II,” 1997 Acrylic, paper, collage, and glitter on unstretched canvas
Kerry James Marshall was born in 1955 in Birmingham, Alabama. Many of his compositions use a blend of artistic techniques, such as collage, patterning and use of naturalistic imagery. Black popular culture and the environment of Marshall’s upbringing are both deeply rooted in the subject matter and images depicted in his paintings, installations, and public projects.In his “Souvenir”, one of which is the last picture displayed, he pays tribute to the civil rights movement in painting a middle-class living room, where an ordinary African-American citizen is an angle tending to a divine order of the ghosts of Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and other heroes of the 1960s. A significant feature of Marshall’s paintings is the emphatically black, almost egnimatic skin tone of his figures—”a development the artist says emerged from an investigation into the invisibility of blacks in America” (PBS).
“The initial development of that unequivocally black, emphatically black figure was so that I would use them as figures that function rhetorically in the painting…And one of the things that I had been thinking about when I started to develop that figure was the way in which the folk and folklore of blackness always seemed to carry a derogatory connotation…A part of what I was thinking to do with my image was to reclaim the images of blackness as an emblem of power, instead of an image of derision.(Art 21)”
– Kerry James Marshall