Derek Fordjour

Return to Artist List





Artist Statement

I remember clearly the animated graphics and orchestral score of the evening news program as it began. My family gathered in typical formation, parents in separate couches, myself and my two brothers contorting our bodies restlessly on the carpeted floor. The news anchor with commanding and authoritative baritone proclaimed, “One in three African-American men would be dead, in jail or on drugs by the age of twenty-one”. I was eight years old and seized with fright. Which one of us bore the ominous distinction of an inevitable disappearance?

My work is fundamentally concerned with an exploration of vulnerability. As a marginalized person, navigating sociological systems, structures and institutions with inherent bias, histories and political motives, I am keenly aware of my sense of agency. Much akin to the plight of a player situated within an individual or collective game, knowledge of the rules, the acquisition and development of skill and an adept application of both are critical to one’s survival.

Questions around rules making, the importance of objective and fair governance in the interest of the public good and private interest are also at play within my work. This extends beyond individual notions of personal value and into the realm of the collective, which introduces ideas of teamwork, gamesmanship, tokenism, merit and demerit.  Economics, gender and race intersect around questions of value with relation to personal self-worth, notions of winning and losing, both in how they are derived, consumed and maintained.

The allegorical relationship between art and sports provides philosophical context for my musings. Both art and sports occupy a similar space within a given society as they both produce a non-utilitarian outcome, but provide a social good. Through a variety of media, my work is the consideration of questions which continue to unfold from the very basic query that seized my hope as a young boy trying to decipher exactly how to win on shifting ground.




MFA, Hunter College, New York, NY
Ed.M., Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
BA, Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA
Pratt Institute College of Art and Design

(upcoming) LUCE Gallery, Turin, Italy
Derek Fordjour : Eight Paintings, Papillion Art, Los Angeles, CA
UPPER ROOM, Robert Blumenthal Gallery, New York, NY
Meritocracy, Jack Bell Gallery, London, UK
The BIG GAME, Storefront Ten Eyck Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
Sciame Artist’s Salon Series Exhibition, Sciame Corporate Gallery, New York, NY
Built Environments: Inaugurations with Felandus Thames, Columbia University
Russ Barrie Pavillion, New York, NY


(upcoming) Human Condition, The Hospital, Los Angeles, CA
Summer Fling, Johannes Vogt Gallery barn show, East Hampton, NY
Island States, Tops Gallery, Memphis, TN
March Madness, Fort Gansevoort, New York, NY
I Like it Like This, Sothebys S2 Gallery, New York, NY
And There is an End, Roberts & Tilton Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Mixed Doubles, Sometimes Gallery, New York, NY
No Such Place, Edward Tyler Nahem Gallery, New York, NY
OPEN, Papillion Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Corpus Americus, Driscoll Babcock Gallery, New York, NY
Ticknihova and Winter, New York, NY
AUC Alumni Exhibition, Atlanta University Center, Atlanta, GA

2016-2017 Sugar Hill Museum, Artist-in-Residence Harlem, NY

Art Critical, “Armory Pick of the Day: Derek Fordjour…”, David Cohen, March 3rd, 2016
Los Angeles Times, “Derek Fordjour: Eight Paintings..” by Carolina Miranda, February 4, 2016
New York Times, “From Derek Fordjour…” by Holland Cotter, November 19, 2015
Los Angeles Times, “And There is an End..” by David Pagel, March 21, 2015
The Brooklyn Rail, Review of ‘The Big Game’.. by Johnathan Goodman, October 7, 2014
Ebony, “Artist Derek Fordjour has a Lesson for…” by Souleo , September 29, 2014
Huffington Post, “The Sports World Could Learn…” by Souleo, September 27, 2014
MSNBC’s, “40 Amazing Black Artist’s to Watch in 2014”, January 3, 2014