The images that I’ve used in my work are taken from late nineteenth century and early twentieth century photographs of minstrel show performers as well as cartoon characters from the 1920’s through the 1970’s. Essentially I am a re-appropriating these images, which were used to denigrate and distort African American culture. My ultimate aim is to neutralize their influence. My work entreats the viewer to look at these images, while at the same time looking through them to discover an alternate context. Through visual redirection it is my intention to engage the viewer long enough for them to suspend their visceral reaction to the image’s grotesqueness. It is my hope that the work might offer a glimpse into the origins of both conscious and subconscious contemporary thinking with regard to race, color and gender while at the same time exorcising the enduring specter that dwells in the American psyche.
Mark Steven Greenfield 2/21/09