The power of the marginalized material of shoe polish does not go unnoticed. It is difficult to find in the grocery store. It is set aside, dusty, almost forlorn, and always on the lower shelf; yet, it possesses the power to marginalize a race, to set aside and further push down with its history and role in creating the “black face”. This material has the dual nature to transpose into the ability to mock and suppress entire communities. The shoe polish by itself is innocent but once applied, becomes guilty. My antennae were raised and outraged. The glimmer of thought conjured by my mind: to transform the material, give it another meaning and push it away from the suppressive and subversive undertones. And ultimately, take it through Purgatory, with the end result being a cleanse of its emotional volatile discourse and a change in the view of the substance.
The process: mix it, reduce it, dilute it, disinfect it, and replace it. The black shoe polish flows into the white shoe polish. They merge, converse, dance, and ultimately, create beauty together. Adding gold, known as a transitional metal, continues the conversation to transition away from the idea of shoe polish used by oppressive minstrels, to the idea of gold as a symbol of strength and a substance for royal burials. Elevate the shoe polish away from that paradigm and shift the use of the material. Give it a different association. Remove and repurpose the material into another art form, one not based in oppression, racism, and create an art that transcends, and transposes into an entirely new conversation without the connotations. The artist is just the choreographer within the work. The unconscious subject emerges through the dance on the surface: homages to nature, life forces, the power of the gestures that hold untapped ideas.
This body of work is about transforming materials, changing the context and allowing collisions between physical substances and gestural ideas to co-mingle together. This gives it freedom, dignity, and strength that can transcend its humble place on the shelf. Through freedom of movement, expression and light, we move beyond the memories of the original intent. All things: sunlight and summer, winter and darkness, spring and movement, autumn and reflection; a visual exploration of crescendos, diminuendos, allegros, adagios, symphony and silences, all colluding to arrange themselves artfully into a new experience, for the viewer.