Black Star: Sankofa Project, Artist Statement
The Middle Passage
The Middle Passage was the stage of the Atlantic Slave Trade in which millions of enslaved Africans were forcibly transported to the Americas as part of triangular slave trade.
is not a narrative depiction of the middle passage but a meditation. The painting consists of black and white panels horizontally arranged to be read left to right, each panel revealing a ghost image some in shadows some in light. The panels in some cases address the passage directly and in other cases indirectly.
In Black and White
A black and white issue, one that involves issues that seem simple and therefore easy to make decisions about. But this isn’t a simple black and white affair. The meditation consists of images ranging from religious symbols to Klan heads invoking ship sails amongst others. The meditation is of struggle and hope. A story of the kidnapping and it’s after effects.
— David McGee
About the Artist
David McGee is a Houston-based artist born in Louisiana and raised in Detroit, MI. Specializing in painting, printmaking, and drawing, McGee’s work oscillates between abstraction and figurative, and explores the emotional weights of race, language, symbols, material and spirits worlds, religion, jokes and puns, sex, art history, and the recognition of existence.
McGee’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. He has been the recipient of 2 Joan Mitchell awards (Painters & Sculptors Grant in 2006 and CALL Project Artist in 2014/2015) and received a Texan-French Alliance for the Arts award (2011), among others. His work is featured in numerous permanent collections, including the Grand Rapids Art Museum (Grand Rapids, MI); Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy (Andover, MA); Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Boston, MA); Rhode Island School of Design Museum (Providence, RI); W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research at Harvard University (Cambridge, MA); The Menil Collection (Houston, TX); The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and Dallas Museum of Art.
About The Sankofa Project
Curated by Tierney L. Malone, The Sankofa Project is a multi-year examination of the historical events leading up to our current moment of social unrest and racial reckoning. Beginning with the people and stories that make up our own communities of Houston, this project aims to bring light to the events that have been censored or ignored in historical narratives in order to reinforce the racial oppression of Black Americans.
The Sankofa Project will commission three artists annually to create and present new work that is reflective of their own experience in contemporary America and related to the work of scholars and historians who are leading conversations on race and inequality. The artists’ work will be presented in Lawndale’s east-facing windows on Main Street and accompanied by a podcast and public program to inspire dialogue within our community.
“Sankofa” is the Ghanaian word most commonly translated as “one must acknowledge the past in order to move forward.” Thus, in The Sankofa Project, Malone brings together artists and our community to reflect upon the past, reminding us of the power of art to serve not only as the language of humanity but also its catalyst for change.
This program is funded in part by the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance.
About the Curator
Tierney L. Malone is a visual artist and modern day storyteller who uses the canon of African-American history and pop culture to create mixed media works that challenge contemporary culture and politics.
Malone has exhibited his art widely throughout Texas and the United States, including numerous solo exhibitions. His works are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Kansas City Jazz Museum, Kansas City, Missouri; Goldman Sachs, New York, New York; and the Federal Reserve Bank, Houston, Texas. He is the recipient of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant, a CACHH Visual Artist Grant, and a Kimbrough Visual Artist Grant.
Collaboration with the jazz community is also at the forefront of Malone’s practice, including commissions to create the jacket covers for jazz musician Don Byron’s 1999 CD, Romance of the Unseen, on the Blue Note Label and for jazz pianist Randy Weston’s 2003 performance at the Miller Outdoor Theater. In 2008, Malone completed two jazz-related major commissions: a limited edition print celebrating Da Camera of Houston’s 20th Anniversary and an outdoor mural entitled “Southern Sounds” for the Coleman Art Center in York, Alabama. Additionally, Malone is the creator of the Jazz Church of Houston and the host of the Houston Jazz Spotlight on 90.1 KPFT, both of which recognize and preserve Houston’s remarkable contribution to the musical genre of Jazz.
Born in Los Angeles and based in Houston’s historic Third Ward, Malone was raised in Mississippi and Alabama and considers himself a Southern Seed.