Imagine my surprise when, upon arriving at Thierry Goldberg Gallery in NYC's lower east side to meet my fellow judge for the Parson's BFA graduate show, it turns out to be Vince Aletti, photography critic for the New Yorker Magazine. After I got over my intimidation, I was thrilled and humbled to chat with Mr. Aletti about the more than 60 graduating artists' work, and even more thrilled when we were in agreement about much of the work on show.
We nominated our winners and each selected a Juror's Choice - mine is A. Retina Stewart. (Her fabulous real name!)
A. Retina Stewart is Houston-born, now living and working in New York. Her short documentary is a classic; it explores the lives of underground hip hop musicians, their goals and personal endeavors. Stewart highlights the young men's struggles against the pressure to be hyper-masculine and portray a young-black-male stereotype.
"Selling drugs is NOT part of our culture. That's the situation we were put in. If we could have went to Yale, we would have. People move drugs into our streets. We are survivors. We didn't get the same opportunities... we made it work."
Genesis Iver, 2014
Carpe D, 2014
Frank McFly, 2014
Jevon Doe, 2014
"Male African-American hip hop musicians are notoriously perceived to uphold hypermasculine standards; which creates a commercialized persona. Through an intimate interview in each artist's bedroom, Stewart explores them on a more dimensional and nuanced level, delving into their ambitions, insecurities, and fears." A. Retina Stewart
Frank McFly, 2015
All images © A. Retina Stewart
In a piece on Afropunk, Stewart proudly, rightfully states "I have mastered the art of finding gold within people, and that's a jewel that school can't teach."
Follow Stewart on Instagram: _arstewart