Aaron Fowler

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Artist Statement

Pulling from reality and my imagination, my work affirms and memorializes important figures in marginalized and privileged communities I am a part of. The materials I use – discards from my immediate environment –communicate ideas about transformation, community, and salvation. In my paintings, I conflate metaphorical imagery sourced from contemporary to prehistorical eras to represent those left to navigate oppressive socio economic constructs with few tools and support. Often times this is the young black male narrative. I reference my personal history, specifically growing up in St. Louis, an urban community abundant with poverty, materialism and violence. I create fantasy characters and paradigms that allude to the metaphysical aspects of race, and present a nuanced approach to reading narratives of blackness. I reference figures in my life that have allowed me to see past negative imagery that too often defines black people in contemporary media. By building on stories from my past, and using the materials and experiences in my present, my work becomes a proposition for a political and social re-imagining of not only where I come from, but also the society where we all are.

In a recent body of work these re-imaginings take shape as medallions, where I reincarnate friends and family into the true beings they imagine themselves to be. The culture of hip hop and its tradition of making something out of nothing has been an inspiration in my practice, underscoring the ethos that one has everything one needs, even if the world sees nothing there. Currently, I’m making a body of work that deals with my pilgrimage as an artist through various cities, institutions, and environments traversing multiple contexts. I’m reclaiming art historical imagery of white Pilgrimage – exploration and conquest – and replacing those histories with my reality: my morals, values, and subsequent belief that that there is a place in contemporary art for such values to be made explicit. A painting titled Pilgrims Grace becomes my family at the dinner table praying with my brother leading us; a painting titled The Pilgrims Going To Church becomes me and my family leaving St. Louis and going to paradise. I place myself in every image as a mirrored character: not black or white but instead a mirror for others to see themselves within me.

 

CV

Born 1988 in St. Louis, MO., lives and works in New York.

Exhibitions
2015   Group Exhibition at Diane Rosenstein Gallery in Los Angeles, CA

2015   So Much To She, Flanders Gallery, Raleigh, North Carolina

2014   The Fourth Annual Skowhegan PERFORMS at Socrates Sculpture Park, Long Island City, NY

2014   Yale MFA Thesis Show

2013 Aaron Fowler and Michael Shultis, Thierry Goldberg Gallery, New York, NY

2013 Summer Mix, Thierry Goldberg Gallery, New York, NY

2012 Promising Artist of the 21st Century Exhibition, Sophia Wanamaker Gallery, San Jose, Costa Rica

2012 It’s a Small Small World, Family Business Gallery, New York, NY

2012 Annual Student Exhibition, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA

2011 Annual Student Exhibition, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA

2009 Art St. Louis Varsity Art Show

Education

2014 MFA, Yale University School of Art, New Haven, CT

2011 BFA, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA

2009 Florrisant Valley Community College, St. Louis, MO

Awards & Residencies

2015   LMCC Resendecies

2014   Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture

2012 Yale School of Art Scholarship

2012 Philadelphia Watercolor Society Certificate of Merit

2012 The J. Henry Shiedt Memorial Travel Scholarship

2012 The Philadelphia Watercolor Society Prize

2012 The John Golasso Memorial Prize

2012 The James O. Dumont Prize

2011 Yale Norfolk Summer School

2011 The Angel Pinto Prize for Experimental Work

2011 Academy Scholarship

2011 Academy Arts Merit Scholarship

2011 Friends of PAFA Scholarship

2010 Academy Scholarship

2010 Academy Merit Scholarship

2009 Academy Scholarship

2009 Academy Merit Scholarship

Collections

Charles Saatchi Collection

Jimenez-Colon Collection

Permanent Collection of Jack Shainman

Permanent Collection of Jeffery Gibson

Permanent Collection of Jack Tiltlon

Permanent Collection of Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Permanent Collection of St Community College at Florissant Valley

Publications

2015   Time Out Magazine

2014   http://blogs.artinfo.com/artintheair/tag/aaron-fowler/

2013 New American Paintings “Youth in Revolt: Aaron Fowler x Michael Shultis

2012 “One Million Years of Painting Temporarily and Monumentality in the Paintings of Aaron Fowler”, Title Magazine