Black History Month is an opportunity to highlight the history and contributions of African and African diaspora communities and individuals both past and present. Educational spaces have a history of producing grassroots campaigns in the discourse of representation. We caught up with Gabriel Choto, BA Fine Art student student using the facilities of his art school to do just that!
“The paradox of education… as one begins to become conscious, one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated” – James Baldwin.
Gabriel Choto is a final year Fine Art student at Camberwell College of Arts, which forms one of the six colleges making up University of the Arts London (UAL). “Painting for me, is unique way of communicating my deepest thoughts. It is simple and at the same time complicated. With ideas constructed and developed each painting evolves freely, though sometimes through challenge yet always independently. What I have been painting is an idea of what I call an overwhelming colonial mentality. The paintings themselves have been painted in a way that better resembles a rather classical or traditional European way of painting portraits.”
We first met Gabriel who took part in the Divercity Arts Project over the summer where students from diverse backgrounds were encouraged to produce works which reflected their cultural heritage, something often discouraged in mainstream Eurocentric curriculum.
Gabriel curated “African Migration” Exhibition, a theme which coincided with our Black History Talk the week prior hosting Prince Asfa-Wossen Asserate (author and grandnephew of Emperor Haile Selassie). Amongst his own were also works of other students from UAL and Goldsmiths University of London. The private view took place on the 4th Oct at UAL.
“Like most of my previous body of work I decided to paint a self-portrait, however instead of it just being a standard observational sketch or painting, this one in particular had deep meaning behind it, involving themes such as colonialism, loss of African identity, pride and self-contradiction. In my recent body of work I have begun to look at the basic architecture of a painting, and the beginnings have been in printmaking. I have painted from and also into the prints. The inconsistencies I have discovered in examining the surfaces of a simple run of etchings have opened up unexpected new starting points for paintings, and I am finding new behaviours in my paint which are signposting new directions in my work on a daily basis.” Gabriel says of his body of work.
Other artists on exhibit included:
Bernard’s Veyu A Journey beyond the Wall (2 piece of work): “Illustrating my physical and mental journey to England reflects my understanding of drawing illustration and painting Illustrate different stages of transition that made me who I am today”
Rochelle White (b.1994, London, UK) is a visual artist who works with various photographic mediums. She is inspired by the works of a diverse group of artists, writers and thinkers including names like Rashid Johnson, Kehinde Wiley, Liz Johnson Artur, THEESatissfaction, and Klein as well as her British-Caribbean background. White’s work engages in conversations of identity, exploring the intersections of personal, cultural and racial identity resulting in a union of bold iconographic and traditional references often loaded with symbolism that is rooted in and informed by Black culture. Within her work you can find studies of the nuances of West-Indian culture in South London and Britain on a larger scale, whilst expanding into questions of spirituality and consumption.
Sheaquan: Mo is an animated comic following the story of a young child soldier. “I was inspired by the life of a close friend who passed away around the time.”
Arts Diversity Matters is a new Arts SU society lead by UAL students continuing the work of Diversity Matters to champion diversity and representation within their learning environment. CLICK HERE for the Arts Diversity Matters Facebook page or email firstname.lastname@example.org for info on joining or setting up a Diversity Matters society at your University!