Loadedware: American Gangsta
12.5 x 10.5 x 23 in.
Stoneware, Glaze, Englobe, Gold and Platinum Lustre
This piece was censored from the 2008 New Faces exhibition at City Hall in Philadelphia. It was juried into the show and installed for about a week and then removed with no explanation. The curators were nice enough though to let me display some tiles instead. I was a senior in collage at the time and my professors encouraged me not to make a fuss about being censored, which they saw as a potentially huge distraction, and to focus on making more work. When I picked up my tiles after the 3 month show I was told that indeed the piece had been censored (it wasn't the first time that it's happened at City Hall) for several reasons. Foremost because the new Mayor, Michael Nutter, was hot to drop Philly's number one spot on the gun homicide chart, and he didn't want City Hall to exhibit an image of a black man holding a gun. Which leads to another reason I was told it was censored: the judges didn't realize I was white. They had assumed that I was black when the piece was juried into the show. The first reason that I was told though upon these revelations was that there was a police dinner/convention thing happening the evening after it was taken out of the display case. Interestingly, several people have told me they thought the gold hand the gangster is shaking behind his back was the police, though I prefer to think it is "the Man," an interpretation of a former professor.
What I think this teapot means:
The gangsta image/lifestyle, so popularized by the media is now being controlled. I don't think it has always been, like when B.I.G., NWA, Tupac, etc. started it, but the record companies and perhaps government-sponseored organizations now are controlling it. The handle of this teapot is a remote controller plugged into the gangsta's head. The gangsta shakes a gold hand behind his back, making a deal: get rich and play the puppet. Promote super-materialism. Get them CEO's richer. Don't save your money to rise above your poverty. It is a form population contol.
Conspiracy theory? Maybe, but my gut thinks not, especially when you consider facts like the FBI promoted and participated in violent racism in the South. There's a pattern here.