BE United



Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2016

Degree Name

MFA (Master of Fine Arts)

Degree In


First Advisor

Winet, Jon

First Committee Member

Winet, Jon

Second Committee Member

Kanouse, Sarah

Third Committee Member

Barbuzza, Isabel

Fourth Committee Member

White, Susan

Fifth Committee Member

Yuen, Kee-Ho


Let's Rap: An Artist Statement

It is not enough for me to cite music solely as a source of inspiration. Hip-Hop, R&B, and, particularly, rap music has as much to do with my upbringing as does the public school system. According to Wikipedia, the components of rap include “content”, “flow” and “delivery”, which are vaguely reminiscent of the visual art terms “concept,” “sequence” and “presentation.” Growing up, music provided a forum to explore and analyze, as award-winning journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates might put it, the necessities for surviving problems of everyday life within and outside the Black American experience. Today, my interest lies in the formality of these art forms and how best to translate them visually. An aesthetic, being ostensibly subjective, offers sight as a material to be used as one uses color, texture or form. As sight is to the visual arts, sound is to music – materials to manipulate and respond to.

Furthermore, I am intrigued by the practical similarities of both music and visual art, in their ability to speak to and for their audiences. Sounds formulated into songs often become portals into yesteryear or soundscapes for an extensive but evanescent summer. What can sight formulate into? How can sight be used as a medium to spark thoughtful conversation? Can Picasso's Guernica be repeated at will, or must the visual artist wait for social uproar to amass a lasting impact?

Deeply rooted in creative expression, poetry is a means to get beyond conventional reasoning just as concept provides the sublimity necessary to suspend belief. Visual artists have been doing this for years: Marcel Duchamp's urinal or Vik Muniz's depiction of (waste worker) Jardim Gramacho as radical journalist Jean-Paul Marat in Jasques-Louis David's The Death of Marat. As with David Hammons' Higher Goals my approach to object making is comparable to that of a digital recording device, perceptibly replaying discourses between Black America and its audience. Visually weaving the aura of an object with its basic function is synonymous to lyrical play and, too, possesses similar impact. Conceptual and poetic play of the two genres offers the work of the artist to transcend beyond object or record.

Therefore, my efforts at object making are to reveal and discover various testimonies within and surrounding Black America.

Public Abstract

Revolutions must be publicized.


publicabstract, Black, Christianity, Elephant, Lion, Love, Race


vi, 21 pages


Supplemental videos Blemished Cosmology and National Pride.


Copyright 2016 LaMar Barber

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