Chukes is an African American artist who grew up in the Bay Area and now resides in Southern California. His art is powerful and expressive, communicating the importance of understanding his history and his truth. He creates his art as an educational and historical tool, teaching others what needs to be seen - the truth that cannot be ignored. This exhibition incorporates both paintings and sculptures, including new and unseen works that are a part of the artist's Identity Theft series.
My creative journey started in Northern California in the early 1960’s. I was born in Vallejo, California and my family moved to San Jose, California when I was a year old. I grew up during the Civil Rights and Black Power movements, amidst the free-thinking Flower Children, Vietnam War, the killings of Black Power leaders and the assassination of a U.S. President. Even while all this was happening right at my doorstep, my childhood was a wonderland of creativity with no one in authority censoring my artistic freedom and thoughts. My parents did an incredible job of keeping our family safe yet always informed us of the impending dangers from the world around us!
As I grew older, I began to understand the importance of a using my art as a meaningful educational and historical tool. The concept of the Identity Theft body of work started in 2016 where I witnessed and experienced the unprecedented televised violence on people of color. My social conscious could not be restrained and soon after my artistic instincts kicked in. I began to create this work based on a multitude of dreams and visions.
As an African American living and working in Southern California, I am bound to my African roots. Each work of art expresses the importance of understanding my history, and the origins of creativity and knowledge. This exhibition counteracts the negative stereotypes that have led so many races to believe they have contributed nothing of importance to humanity. As I look back at my own family history, as well as researching world history, I reflected on what I have and have not been taught about myself, and other people and cultures of the world.
This work is my artistic representation of what happens when people or nations of people are stripped of their indigenous identity and re-taught a history that historically filters the truth and presents an incorrect version of past and present injustices. This filtered history, as I call it, is being used against us as a weapon of self-destruction. Our existence on this planet depends on our perceptions and understanding of one another. An incorrect version of history should be viewed as a crime against humanity. The art in this exhibit reflects my truth!
Here we are in the 21st century and it feels as if the world is going backwards. In today’s societies, vast numbers of people are becoming increasingly fearful to speak up and act against senseless hate crimes and injustices. Like so many others, I too have been personally victimized by racial ignorance. Instead of reacting through violence, I have chosen to use my artistic voice to speak out against hate. This exhibit also includes new and unseen works that is a continuation of Identity Theft. We must start conversations that include all voices and races. There is no time limit in creating the truth! I use the power of my art to express my voice!
Chukes, Time Traveler, 2023, ceramic.