Headlands Center for the Arts

Stuart Robertson

california | visual
Graduate Fellowship Program 2020—2021, Stanford University

Artist Statement

I create artworks that reject the distortion, misrepresentation, and erasure of a global Black history centered on degradation and suffering. I create opportunities for witnessing, not occupying, scenes of Black life and bodies in their splendor and ordinariness. Rooted in my assemblages of post-consumption waste, my latest works depict metallic-skinned subjects in scenes from family albums, archives, and social media. As I focus on the Black body as both vessel and substance, these intimate yet quasi-anonymous metallic portraits complicate the concept of skin-color-as-race. They embody bling, shine, and glow to highlight the conspicuous consumption of Black bodies, resist erasure, and illuminate the duality of being coveted and discarded. In my world, Black skin is durable, weatherproof, conductive, magnetic, flexible, percussive, and indestructible. These lustrous figures offer unusual interactions with images of Blackness and invoke metaphors of skin color that position skin as much more than an indicator of race.

While at Headlands

I will explore the physical separation of Marin City from the social and natural splendors of greater Marin County. I am curious about environmental, social, and demographic inequality in Marin, and how the material or natural world relates to those societal dynamics. As I examine the impact of the physical environment on Black experiences in Marin and on myself at Headlands, I aim to present Blackness through renditions of skin and bodies without illustrating race. My goal is to use portraiture and other interventions to communicate Bay Area residents’ lived experiences and perceptions of the city, the land, and its occupants.

 

Banner image: Stuart Robertson, Gran’s Table, 2020; photographic print, enamel, and acrylic on wood; 144 x 48 in; © Stuart Robertson

Selected Works

Personal Website

http://www.conalyn.com