I am examining the relativity of global indigenous geometric patterns, specifically West African Kente schema, as a possible progenitor of modern digital cultures. I see overwhelming similarities in basic constructions and designs of computer processing chips and video games to the geometrical weave of the cloth. The vividly bold colors, precise hard lines, sequential rhythms and movements attest to the high intellectual capacity of those whom were called “Primitive.”
Stan Squirewell was born and raised in Washington, DC and currently lives and works in Louisville, Kentucky. He is a painter, photographer, installation, and performance artist. His work is multilayered, and his subject matter tackles themes such as race and memory through mythology, sacred geometry, and science. He draws his inspiration from theory books, science fiction movies and novels, avant-garde jazz, and indigenous storytelling.
Squirewell’s artistic training began at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. Since graduating he has continued his tutelage under many of DC’s legends, including artists Michael Platt and Lou Stovall. He is a 2007 MFA graduate of the Hoffberger School of Painting, where he studied with the late Grace Hartigan. He is the first winner of the Rush Philanthropic and Bombay Sapphire Artisan series. He has performed with Nick Cave (SoundSuits) at the National Portrait Gallery and Jefferson Pinder with G-Fine Arts. His work is privately and publicly collected, including by the Reginald Lewis Museum, Robert Steele Collection, and Smithsonian for the African American Museum.
Claire Oliver Gallery presents Who That Is? by artist Stan Squirewell, marking the artists’ debut at the gallery, on view March 25 – May 15, 2022.
Through a ritualized process, Squirewell’s work examines who curates and controls the narratives that became accepted as history; from what perspective is history written, whose stories are told, and whose are neglected?
Featuring more than 15 new works by the Louisville-based artist, Who That Is? showcases works from Squirewell’s series While Shepherds Kept Their Watching, the creation of which is a summation of the multimedia artists’ practices of painting, photography, sculpture, and performance.
“As a child of the hip hop era, born in the 70s, growing up in the 80s and 90s, I look at my work as almost remixing, crate-digging, but my crates are museums, private collections, and historical narratives,” states Squirewell. “I remix my pieces according to my own way of writing history and who we are as people. My work exists as a veil between the spiritual and real world, it’s a bridge that offers a connection between the two.”
The works in the Discovery series are founded on the concept of character creation and a ritualized rebuilding of a new identity using the holy trinity of the artist’s work: painting, photography and sculpture. Squirewell uses found historic photographs of Black people, whose complex human identities have been erased either through time or through design, as a starting point.
He then layers collage, painting, and photography with each new element undergoing a ritualized burning that is an abstracted nod to mythology, lore, and Judeo-Christian rituals imbuing the character with rebirth and acting as an offering to the spiritual world.
Squirewell then sculpts unique frames for each image, beginning with the transcription of a text statement on the work, composed of binary code, indigenous American and African glyphs using the shou sugi ban technique of blackening wood, which are then mitered into frames.