We had a chance to catch up with Masud Olufani at his TCP home/studio as he prepared works for CONTINUUM! Masud completes his residency at the end of the month. He’s been making great use of the live/ work space as to accommodate his sculptural process while contributing to the creative lives of youth in the community.
Thematically my art is rooted in the human experience as seen through a prism of blackness vis-à-vis the African American experience. This is reflected in my choice of materials such as cotton, tobacco, sugar, red clay, hair, and rust which suggest particular cultural and historical associations—but meaning can be elusive. There is a conceptual subversiveness within the work which alludes to the complex history of race but resists the tendency to make reductive observations—things are not always black and white. I am interested in exploring the contradictions and the tension of our “racialized” past—the beautiful and the grotesque, the mundane and the majestic, the joyful and the sorrowful. It is within the framework of that exploration that the veil of separation is removed and the legacy of a shared history revealed.
Masud Olufani, Soup Coolers (IN PROGRESS)
Masud Olufani, Poetics of the Disembodied (IN PROGRESS)
Masud Olufani’s Continuum Installation appearing from left to right
Sapling, wood, resin, axe, pillow, paint, and silkscreen on wood.
Children of the Windy City, graphite and conte’ crayon on wood, gun, vintage segregation sign, sound.
Root/ Memory, cast bronze, locks.
Weight of Memory, Forged steel, carved buckeye, radio flyer, stain, wax.
Poetics of the Disembodied, forged steel, wood, pigment, resin, journal
Masud Olufani, Children of the Windy City, graphite and conte’ crayon on wood, gun, vintage segregation sign, sand, sound.
Between 2008 and 2014 some 1,336 children under the age of twenty five have been murdered on the streets of Chicago. The enormity of that lose and the wasted human potential associated with it, formed the conceptual framework for this installation. These renderings based on randomly chosen photographs of victims, represent a sampling of young lives taken by gun violence. The juxtaposition of the drawings with the vintage segregation sign underscores the intersection of death and race. The line drawn in the sand is a declarative statement___ “no more!” I am interested in the way we process lose in America, and how we assign value to lives. Is the spiritual landscape of our empathy and outrage inclusive, or is even our experience of death subject to marginalization and social ostracization? Whose children are these? Yours? Mine? Or do they belong to all of us? These are difficult questions which must be askedpublically, privately, and most importantly honestly.
*It is important to note that although the murder rate among Chicago’s youth was the conceptual trigger for this work, the disproportionate deaths of young black and brown men vis-à-vis gun violence is an ongoing national tragedy with roots that extend to every corner of this nation. The systemic causes of which link the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, social economic oppression, and indifference to the blood soaked streets of our inner and outer cities.
Malcolm Stuckey 19 | Carnesha Fort 22 | William Aikens 18 | Hadiya Pendleton 15 | Martavian Emery 21
Deandre Barber 18 | Deshawn Johnson 17 | Geanni Boyd 16 | Marc Campbell 20 | Jonylah Watkins 4 months
Nicholas Keener 16 | Cortez Rivers 16 | Demureyah Macon 13 | Markeyo Carr 17
Kevin Diaz 14 | Tyrone Lawson 17 | Damani Henard 14 | Eric Woods 25 | Willie Buie 20
Tremaine Scott 19 | Aaron Rushing 15 | Kendall Floyd 20 | Kevin Baker 19 |Timmy Bermudez 19
Masud Olufani, Children of the Windy City, graphite and conte’ crayon on wood, gun, vintage segregation sign, sound. (shown last year at TCP’s MOMENTUM exhibition)