Unveiling A New Series: Puer

I’ve been working on exploring a number of different archetypes through a variety of media in the Triumphs project which aims to transform notions of identity.  I call on a variety of recognizable symbolic markers to learn what it means to wear new identities in the stories we tell others and whisper to ourselves. Among the archetypes I explored are Migrations (The Hanged Man), Whistling Dixie (The Mandala), Charites (The Anima), Book of Hours (Judgement)…and now Puer (Eternal Child).

I’m always a little superstitious about showing my work before it is ready, but now that the series has taken shape it is time to make the work public.

Puer expresses a hunger for independence and freedom. He’s opposed to boundaries and limits, and prefers living in his own head instead of reality. To manifest this archetype, I assume a completely different identity, wearing a male persona complete with a beard and androgynous clothes, have an anglo name, and leave behind the limitations of my race and gender.

I first conceived of this series immediately after last year’s ACES Conference. It was the most exciting event I have attended, ever! To see hundreds of artists of color all gathered for one purpose, to stand witness to the stories shared by presenters and fellow artists was deeply cathartic…and exhausting. The last day of the conference coincided with the opening Our Daily Armor III at Virago Gallery. Several artists at ACES were also showing at Virago with me, and at the opening they too mentioned how moved and fatigued they were by the experience.

Resisting external and internal colonization, fighting the good fight– these take a lot out of you. It’s that extra emotional, psychic, and creative cost you pay for being an artist of color who engages with the world as it is.

I though deeply about  Elisheba Johnson’s comment that the art world was a gated community. It’s not just about how segregated it still is (don’t believe me? just look at the Power 100). It’s about how those who don’t face the same struggles POC do have the mental, emotional and creative space to explore and play.

I realized I needed to activate Puer in my studio.

Because Puer hates being constrained he goes where he pleases, traveling freely through an Aleph discovered in a Jorge Luis Borges short story.

I’ll begin posting about each piece in the Puer series now, so you can get to know where he’s been going and what he’s been painting.