"The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness." –Joseph Conrad
This body of work is part of an exploration into the nature of evil that includes both a series of sculptures and portrait paintings. The paintings are of black men who have been accused of violent crimes. Some have been proven guilty by a court of law and others have simply been accused by the court of public opinion.
These are people that have found themselves on the cover of publications like the Daily News, the Village Voice or the New York Post, publications that sink to the lowest common denominators to sell papers. It is in these sensationalist papers that the collective unconscious is revealed.
When Ronell Wilson was sentenced to the death penalty for the murder of two police officers last winter, the headline of the Daily News read “Fry Baby.” This was after he stuck his tongue out at the widow of one of the slain police officers. This very public push and pull between the news media and the accused suspect caught my attention and led me to wonder which is worse–his immature behavior in court or the press’ lack of objectivity in covering this story.
As a society, there is a desire to make clear the line between acceptable and unacceptable behavior, between the good people and the bad. As a result, people like Ronell Wilson, Lee Coleman (Second Avenue Slasher) and William Ragland must be made into examples. But at what cost? These people look a lot like me, and I often wonder if I am also paying the cost for their indiscretions.
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