Exhibit Description
This show marks my first solo museum exhibition in the state where I was born—North Carolina— and so it is with great pleasure that I present “Home Coming, 26 Love Letters to North Carolina.” The small town of Rich Square is where I was born and raised. There, I learned to play and create, and had many of my first life encounters in an all-Black community that’s called the Hill. Those early years were infused with music—soul, R&B, gospel, and jazz music poured out from neighbors’ homes, churches, and the cars driving down the Hill’s dirt road. This music would indelibly influence my creative process. 

As a teenager, I moved to Bergenfield, New Jersey, located just a few minute drive from New York City. There I was on the ground floor on the development of rap music. Rap embraced sampling, mixing, and recomposing snippets of the music of my childhood in order to create rhythms befitting of hip hop. This aspect of reconfiguration, of reframing the familiar, is central to my process. Jazz, too, with its improvisational spirit, has informed my process allowing me to imbue my works with a rhythmic quality that freely connects shared universal experiences in single pictorial spaces. 

My practice can be summarized as an interest in relationships—the relationship between people, places, patterns, shapes, color, and space. My work becomes a visual language exploring how these myriad relationships function as narratives and how they relate to each other and against one another on a two-dimensional surface. Both my representational and abstract works incorporate abstract composition principles along with a variety of symbols. These images are filled with the rhythmic properties of music that weave throughout my oeuvre. Through my work, I am seeking to engage in a visual conversation, a back-and-forth, rooted in the spirit of unity: paper versus paint; warm versus cool; arranged versus spontaneous; figurative versus abstract. My objective is to bring together each of these contrasts into one delicate discordance, a beautiful balance, a harmony of difference. At the heart of my practice is my African-American lineage, tracing back to sharecroppers of the American South then up to the Northern cities along the East Coast. 

My pictorial narratives are personal, yet the symbols I use are universal and interplay with larger social, racial, ancestral, economic, and political histories that inform our nation to this day. The history of my family is the history of black Americans, which is the history of all of America. My work aims to imbue each piece with a lyrical, yet authentic resilience borne of limited resources and frugality that speaks to the struggle and hope, pain, joy, and soul of folks in the Black community.
Artist Biography
My roots grow from the deep Southern soil of my ancestors in Rich Square, North Carolina, but my artistic craft has blossomed under the Northern skies. These two American landscapes have fundamentally shaped my artistic practice. Paintings and collages speak to their dichotomies; I freely combine elements of figuration and abstraction into single compositional spaces. I work across a wide range of media including dimensional work, and video. The continuous thread throughout my oeuvre is my interest in my family lineage and our migration from North Carolina’s Northeastern agricultural region to the buzzing hustle of our nation’s Northern cities.

In my works, I engage motifs, textures, colors, patterns, quilts, and other objects that communicate coexisting ideas of heritage, desire, longing, joy, familial dreams, and legacies of pain. While many of my works are personal in nature, the symbols and questions are universal, touching on social, racial, ancestral, economic, and political histories that inform our nation to this day. My family history is the history of Black America, which is itself the history of North America.

While growing up I drew, made comic books, fell in love with books, and made all types of things. But my formal art education began in high school in Bergenfield, New Jersey. It flourished at Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute where I earned my BFA. I continued on to earn an MFA in Visual Arts from Lesley University in Massachusetts. Over the years, much of my learning has been self-motivated and drawn from myriad sources— books and conversations with other artists along with museum and gallery visits.

Music has provided endless inspiration to me as well. Hip-hop culture was in its infancy when I was a teenage DJ living in New Jersey, and I learned to mix breaks, sample, scratch, and manipulate records to create effects and unique musical combinations. Being a rap DJ embraces improvisational elements derived from Jazz music, and these creative impulses of reconfiguration and experimentation influence my practice to this day.

This same spirit of spontaneity can be seen in the work of the woman quilters of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, artists who number among my greatest influences. Such improvisation is the lifeblood of my practice, and these qualities draw from a heritage of African American resourcefulness in which folks who had very little transformed what was at  hand—assembling, collaging, and painting—to create something original and beautiful. This transformative quality speaks to the aspirations, struggles, and very soul of folks in the Black community.


Artist Name(s): Ransome
Exhibit Name: Home Coming, 26 Love Letters to North Carolina.
Gallery Location: CAM Lower Level Gallery
Current Status: Past