The Angels of 17 Years Boy

Sep 24, 2020

This body of work conceptualizes the angel as a large, brown-skinned being, who is in various stages of appearing (or becoming). The figure is seemingly transfixed by the sight or idea of something that he is witnessing. He appears in full profile view, with a hand covering his face. Between his race, geometric stance, dramatic gesture, and repetitious appearances, I am addressing a number of ideas that are central to this body of artwork.

The angels in this series are mostly black, wingless beings who appear to be ideologically connected to the Black Boys and Men at the center of the presented conversation. In the repeated palm-to-face gesture, we can decipher prayer, quiet thoughtfulness, deep consideration, or a deliberate pause before a mighty demonstration. However, we may also read anguish, despair, anxiety, perhaps a refusal to really see and acknowledge what is occurring, or even an abject blindness to society’s present conditions altogether.

And yet, I am also recalling the idea of grounds and spaces that are “hallowed,” in reference to biblical angels who would cover their faces with their multiple wings in the presence of God out of reverence; or, as in the story of Cain and Able, vocal grounds that are heavily soaked with the deluge of the angry blood of the innocents that have been slaughtered, and the tears and prayers of their wailing mothers.

In this way, the angels might be reflective of our own emotional responses to the ideas that have been brought together in this conversation. Either way, I have taken personal comfort in their presence in this space, and in this collection of artwork.