Artist Spotlight: Jamal Cyrus

October 26, 2016

I have been exercising/exorcising my preoccupations in a variety of methods, cross‐referenced and cross‐fertilized. A collage of procedures: A video of a drawing, a drawing of a text, a woodcarving of a photograph. Seeking in these collisions the emancipatory desires of my predecessors.” – Jamal Cyrus In his work Houston‐based artist Jamal Cyrus produces revisionist approaches to American history through the appropriation and reinterpretation of charged political paraphernalia and cultural objects. Focusing on the formulation of Black identity through periods of political and cultural activism, such as the Civil Rights and the Black Power movements, and their consequent appropriation by mainstream culture. In his 2D, 3D, and time-based work, Cyrus creates his own alternative accounts of these histories, causing the viewer to acknowledge the subjectivity of interpreting past events. He has had solo exhibitions in Texas and New York and participated in group exhibitions nationally and internationally. Cyrus is also a founding member of the artist collective Otabenga Jones and Associates. Cyrus’s works, For Contralto (Marian), 2016; For Bass (Paul) 2016; and Raisin, 2016 are on view now in the gallery as part of the current show. 

He explains the impact that Adkins had on his artistic life: “Although there are many contributions Terry Adkins made to my artistic life, I would say one of the most important is that he helped me to detect in the field of Visual Arts, and in Black VisualCulture’s hinterlands specifically, where I could locate something akin to the energy and spirit I feel circulating through Black sound practices. So when he said, ‘My quest has been to find away to make music as physical as sculpture might be, and sculpture as ethereal as music is,’ my mind rocked and reeled, and his statement took on alchemical dimensions, staking out new and fertile territory with interdisciplinary precision.”