logomark 4-22 SM

Rema Hort Mann Foundation

Aaron Fowler

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.