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Art That Lifts The Lid on Today’s Black America

Art That Lifts The Lid on Today’s Black America

African American Art, African American Artist, Sanford Biggers, KOLUMN Magazine
[three_fourth padding=”0 15px 0 0px”]Art That Lifts The Lid on Today’s Black America


Artist Sanford Biggers goes head-to-head on issues like Black Lives Matter, race visibility, and history with poet and friend Saul Williams.

Finding a way to discuss the uncomfortable issues that Americans are often too quick to shy away from – whether he’s addressing police brutality by shooting African figurines in “BAM” (2015), anti-black violence through a ‘breathing’ but face town sculpture of Fat Albert (“Laocoon”, 2015) or slavery (“Lotus”, 2007) – Sanford Biggers is pushing necessary dialogue about black lives, living conditions and social change in America into public consciousness.

Entering the art world through a fascination with painting, the now-multidisciplinary artist began immortalising famous African-American icons like Harriet Tubman on canvas. “People would see them and be like ‘who’s that?’ and I was able to give them some background. That’s what sort of got me interested in using art as bringing up issues. But I actually just love art; I love getting my hands dirty and making things,” he tells me when we catch up in Arizona, where he is showing his work at FORM Festival in Arcosanti. But there’s no denying politics aren’t firm in the heart of his work. “It was about starting a dialogue and also creating a document, of a different take on American history.” Referring to the ‘little bit’ that Americans are taught in schools, he believes there’s also a lot left out – not to mention the voices where such stories are coming from – “you don’t have that many alternatives out there for people to digest.”

An LA native working in NYC, Sanford Biggers creates artworks that integrate film, video, installation, sculpture, drawing, original music and performance. He intentionally complicates issues such as hip hop, Buddhism, politics, identity and art history in order to offer new perspectives and associations for established symbols. Through a multi-disciplinary formal process and a syncretic creative approach he makes works that are as aesthetically pleasing as they are conceptual.

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During the three-day-long event, he paired himself with the equally vocal and enlightening, longtime friend, muse and poet, Saul Williams, to talk about his work and the conversations surrounding it. Below is an edited segment of that dialogue.

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