LaKela Brown

During a visit to The Metropolitan Museum of Art I went into the Egyptian and Roman/Greek galleries to look at the coins and reliefs. I noticed the way the coins and reliefs used symbols, composition, and material to communicate ideas and started to realize that these pieces were showing me a visual language that I could appropriate for my own visual vocabulary. My work until this point had been only or predominantly centered around the human figure, and I felt the need to expand my subject matter, but wasn’t sure how I could do that until this moment.

As I was growing up in Detroit in the 1980’s and 90’s amid a lot of social change I was very aware of the aesthetics of the time. Although, I hadn’t yet developed a social critique for what I was learning, I understood on a basic level the importance of the symbols in the objects being used in hip hop as it was growing in it’s mainstream appeal, and the effect it had on me. I remember that after toys, these objects were the first objects that I felt a strongest desire to possess.

I did not grown up going to art galleries, art museums, or anything of the sort, and I experienced an extreme amount of shock, joy, and confusion when I entered art school. The college that I attended had an extreme lack of diversity (at the time), and growing up in a predominantly black city, it was a new experience of scenarios that I had never even had to consider before. This experience also brought the joy of exposure to objects and people that reflected back to me the seriousness, and connection I felt, and provided me with the basic vocabulary of the elements and principles that guide me.

All of these experiences inform my interests as an artist, and my current work is an exploration of the visual representation of the points of intersection that I am working to combine and ideally create a unified aesthetic.

There are several goals and concerns that I am aware of and committed to addressing in with this work. First, to celebrate black American aesthetics without perpetuating capitalism and/or needless consumption. Secondly, to use this imagery in a way the does not exclude gender minorities and non-binary people by proliferating a kind of gender essentialism. Finally, to unite the formal practices of my art school training with the aesthetics and values of my community.

2005 Bachelor of Fine Arts, College for Creative Studies, Detroit, MI


Awards, Fellowship, Residencies

2018 Faculty Artist-In-Resident, Saugatuck, MI
2007 Residency, Mano y Mente, Tula Rosa, NM
2005 Fellowship, Ox-Bow, Saugatuck, MI
2003 Residency, Art On the Move, Detroit, MI
Grant, Art On the Move, Kettering High School, Detroit, MI


Teaching Experience

2017-Present Instructor, New York University, Art Department, New York, NY
2016-Present Instructor, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn, NY
2015-Present Educator and Site Supervisor, The Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Brooklyn, NY
2016 Lecturer, The College for Creative Studies
2005-06 Assistant Teacher, College for Creative Studies, Community Art Partnership Program 2009 English As A Second Language Instructor, American Village, France (Various Cities)


Professional Experience

2017 Molding/Casting, Public Art Fund, New York, NY

2008 Artist Demonstration, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI


Solo Exhibitions

2018 Untitled. Lars Friedrich Gallery, Berlin, Germany
Material Relief. Reyes Gallery, Birmingham, MI

2016 Bamboo Earrings At Least Two Part, Cave Gallery, Detroit, MI

2015 I Make My Own Money Now, NADA, New York, NY
Yellow 5, Red 40, Blue 1, Solar Gold. Jackie Klempay Gallery, Brooklyn, NY

2007 Heavy On the Heart, Moka Gallery, Chicago, IL
Losing/Gaining, Alumni/Faculty Hall, College for Creative Studies, Detroit, MI


Selected Group Exhibitions

2018 Mane ‘N Tail. The Luminary, St. Louis, MO
Annual Benefit Show. White Columns Gallery, New York, NY
Ready Made, Inaugural Show. Swiss Institute,New York, NY
Dressed. Paul Robeson Galley, Rutgers University, Newark, NJ

2017 Tell The Truth About Me. Prince George African American Museum, P.G., Maryland
Fools Gold, AC Institute. New York, NY
Three,We Buy Gold. Brooklyn, NY
Laurel. Laurel Exhibition, Brooklyn, NY

2016 Island States. Tops Gallery, Memphis, TN

2015 Catch Me If You Can. Raw Space Gallery, New York, NY
Inventory of Lucifer’s Grotto. Jackie Klempay Gallery, Brooklyn, NY

2014 Paper For The Sky. Interstate Gallery, Brooklyn, NY

2012 Untitled. Lars Friedrich Gallery, Berlin, Germany

2010 People Like Us. Ann Arbor Art Center, Ann Arbor, MI
Proof. CCCP Gallery, Brooklyn, NY

2008 Women and Gender Studies. University of Detroit Mercy, Detroit, MI

2006 Hip-Hop’s Influence on Art. Flint Institute of Art, Flint, MI

2005 Head, Hand, and Heart. Bagley Art Gallery, Detroit, MI


Publications and Press

2018 Artforum, January

Riverfront Times, January

2017 Bmore Art, November al.html

Vice-Creators, July 12th blm

2016 New Museum, September 1st

The Brooklyn Rail, July 11th

Locate Arts,

Art News, May 13th

‘Island States’ at Tops Gallery, Memphis

Art Viewer, May 29th Infinite Mile, June Issue

2015 Art News, May 13th

Preview NADA New York 2015

International Art and Culture, May 15th

NADA New York

Observer, May 15th

The Body Is Back at the 2015 NADA Art Fair