His work has been described as “stridently race conscious,” who wrestles “with issues related to Black and gay self-hatred, Black-ness, Jamaican-ness, African-ness, sexuality, class and religion. He achieves all this through a self-taught direct style that calls on Rastafari and Garvey symbolism.” I would describe his work as right on time.
I met Lawrence a few years ago at a Rainbow Book Fair then hosted by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center. He was quiet, unassuming and polite. Apparently, he saves his energy for the stage. When the spotlight hits him, Graham-Brown comes alive. He can be credited for taking the Black male body into various spaces (the church, for example) and making it front and center in unique, startling ways.
Below he shares his sensibilities about his art and its purpose.
How would you describe your artistic process?
Well, an inspiration could come from many sources. I might develop an idea by writing about it then create artwork through various media, vis-à-vis painting, collage, performance video, or just having a discussion to flesh out thoughts about it. Sometimes I may put a thought on hold and then return to it later, however I would like to think I am a 21st Century man and so I try to address issues I think would be of relevance to me and my communities.
Nudity figures prominently in your work, talk about that.
My work is rooted in concepts of liberation, fear, boundaries or lack thereof, risks, challenges, religion, race, sex-sexuality and so on. So therefore nudity would certainly be a friend. Nudity always draws a range of emotion; it is like brush strokes or piano keys in my work. I like to create a range of emotion. Some folks pick up on the nudity because that is where they enter the work, or the olfactory notes, or sounds, or actions but as a Jamaican liberation is at the very core of my being, with influences from Garvey, Rex Nettleford, Marley, and many others. You would be blind to not realize the erosion of our civil rights, so as a 21st Century Black man in USA, I believe that public policy makers do not believe we have the right to own our bodies, to dance how we want to dance, and to dress the way we want to dress.
On Tuesday May 28, 2013, at 6:30 p.m. join Jamaican artist Lawrence Graham-Brown for a screening of “Rites of Passage/Sacred Spaces 2012,” his recent performance/film at the Schomburg Center. After the screening, Graham-Brown will be in conversation with Steven G. Fullwood about his insightful views on art, politics, and public performance as a venue for change, expression, and liberation. Light refreshments will be served.
Free! Registration required! Register and spread the word!