My commitment: Sparking challenging conversations through art
As a conceptual artist, I’m constantly looking for creative ways to spark challenging conversations. I do this through painting, sculpture, video, and performance. But regardless of the format, two of my favorite materials are history and dialogue.
In 2007, I created Lotus, a 7.5 foot diameter, 600 pound, glass depiction of a lotus blossom. In Buddhism, the lotus is a symbol for transcendence and for purity of mind and spirit. But a closer look at this lotus reveals each petal to be the cross-section of a slave ship. This iconic diagram was taken from a British slaving manual and later used by abolitionists to show the atrocities of slavery.
In America, we don’t like to talk about slavery. Nor do we look at it as a global industry. But by using this Buddhist symbol, I hope to universalize and transcend the history and trauma of black America and encourage discussions about our shared past.