Richard-Jonathan Nelson

Graduate Fellowships, 2017 - 2018
California College of the Arts

Artist Statement

Via the heightening of inherent color and compression of both perceptual and conceptual space, my work examines the overlapping worlds of perceived identity and emotional memory. By manifesting an undulating fissure in the hallucinatory narrative of what it means to be a queer Black man. This fissure is constructed through the conceptualization of hoodoo as a forgotten technology for cultural defiance and escape. Thereby exorcising both ethnic and queer cultural limitations through the melding of shamanistic expanded (mental) states with the subversive nature of the southern gothic. Creating a limbic space free from weighted gender norms, accepted cultural reality, and able to examine and critique the unspoken ways systems of power persist within queer spaces. By using my body and eroticized images of queer Black men I entreat the viewer to engage with the abjection and otherness imposed on Black bodies in homonational spaces.

While at Headlands

While at Headlands I want to intermingle digital projection and performative costuming with the natural landscape. As an opportunity to delve further into a speculative reality built on the periphery of both gay and Black identity. A reimagined amalgamation of the Southern Gothic root doctor and medieval cunning woman. Archetypes of the alienated manipulator of magic and introspection, but reinterpreted through video art and augmented reality within the landscape. I will also create bodies of work through hand weaving and embroidery that reference older means of mythological storytelling.