PERCEPTION/REALITY (In the Age of Deception)
New works by Raymond A. Thomas
Artist Show Statement
“Why can't we brothers protect one another? No one's serious, and it makes me furious. Don't be misled.” – Curtis Mayfield
This new series of multi-disciplinary workswas derived from my lovefor the People and is the result of over ten years of study, sketches, life lessons and spiritual musings.
Perception/Reality (in the Age of Deception)investigates the notions of visual and sensory manipulation and how thiscurrent multi-media bombardment of subversion connects historically to an ongoing campaign of conformity and control. I used varying art media to mirror the layered effects of this multi-media manipulation on our psyches.I also wanted the work to reflect how the hideous and the sublime coexist as we grapple with them, trying to rationalize our world through minefields of distorted truths.
These works, like most of the art I make, seek to engage the crossroads where self-identity, religion, politics and culture meet. Through the lens of my African-American experience, I celebrate daily the triumphs and tears of our collective journey. This series also probes the ever-adaptable “race message;” questioning and exposing the motives of those who have and are delivering it to the masses.
This lyric by the prophet Curtis Mayfield from his classic song Freddie’s Dead provides the perfect foundation for the sentiment in which this work was conceived. As a native of St. Louis, Missouri, I was devastated by the murder of Mike Brown and the ensuing unrest in Ferguson. One of the pieces from this exhibition “Urban Baptism,” which was actually created months before the incident, speaks prophetically not only to this tragedy but also to the ongoing deaths of mostly young Black men and boys still occurring daily in our city streets.
I can only hope that these visual conversations stimulate debate, challenge misconceptions and move viewers to action. If perception is indeed reality, we must create a counter-narrativeand immediately become the tellers of our OWN stories and creators of our OWN images and truths. Only by doing this can we truly become masters of our present and caretakers of our future.
Funded in part by the City of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) 2014 Individual Artists Program (IAP) Grant