In the Hearts of Men

-I’m terrified by the moral apathy, the death of the heart, which is happening in my country.

--James Baldwin

Waking up to our new reality last November, I couldn’t shake the thought that I had vastly underestimated the darkness in the hearts of my fellow citizens. Whatever I had been working on in the studio quickly lost significance in my mind and I found myself just wanting to make “portraits” of hearts. Black hearts, pure hearts, complicated hearts, vacuous hearts… all set against a backdrop of the swirling baroque vortex of our increasingly detached experience of reality.

In a context of ostentatious, opulent displays of wealth, domesticity, vulgar tweets, or roiling emotional turmoil, the disembodied hearts vie for their own alt-realities. Mainly screen printed in oil, these works deviate from my usual abstract imagery in their insistent connection to living and dying, co-opting reference images from medical illustration for political ends.

 

-Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, which is the only fact we have.

- "Letter from a Region of My Mind" in The New Yorker (17 November 1962); republished as "Down at the Cross: Letter from a Region in My Mind" in The Fire Next Time (1963)

--James Baldwin