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May 2010 - From the Ain't Gots to the Have Nots

“She Used to Love Him” by Antoine Williams, founding member, Godcity
“She Used to Love Him” by Antoine Williams, founding member, Godcity

“I go to encounter… the reality of experience, and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.”
– James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

“We can make anything that we wanna make, we can create anything that we wanna create…
I am the definition of hip hop. You are the definition of hip hop. We are the definition of hip hop” – Cey Adams, DEFinition – The Art and Design of Hip-Hop

Class, Identity and Art – Presentation & Discussion led by God City

God City needs no introduction in Charlotte. Formed in 2005, they are already probably the best known local artists’ collective, having been featured in several high profile shows, and having shown/lectured at almost every major University in the region.

They are also perhaps the only real artists’ collective, in the sense that the members share certain strong stylistic and philosophical themes in their work. Godcity’s work derives from a variety of sources like the hip hop culture, TV shows, anime, comic books, consumer culture and commercialism. It is often serious, geeky, disturbing, glamorous, loud, provocative and many more things at the same time. It is also youthful, high-energy, rebellious, and often political.

Any good arts education has a transformative effect. A person is reborn as an artist, and his/her place in the artistic culture mostly overrides the class/culture that he/she grew up in. But instead of making their art a reflection of the inner existential issues, Godcity’s unique work is the result of the conscious refocusing of their skills and artistic sensibilities back on to the class, identity, community, politics and other cultural forces that formed them as individuals.

“Hip Hop Art” (to put a rather simplistic label on a very broad range of approaches, styles and media ranging from graffiti to branding) is perhaps at a stage where its musical sibling was at in early eighties: mature and complex, and about to transform from an underground movement into one of mainstream global significance. It is finally, and well deservedly, becoming a recognized school of “serious art”.

From Shakespeare to Garcia Marquez, from Kurasawa to Tarantino, some of the most influential works of all time have been meaningful and entertaining to a very wide range of the people – they manage to be low, middle and high brow at the same time. Whereas contemporary “high” art is often accused of being “elitist” – of being accessible, meaningful and affordable only to a small percentage of the population.

So, can this assimilation of a underground art form help modern art finally have a broader appeal and relevance?

  • -Aesthetic/cultural trends normally “trickle down”, where the middle class, and later the poorer classes, imitate and assimilate the tastes and preferences of the affluent. Will this lead to one of those rare bottom-up transformations?
  • -Can a body of work that viscerally respond to the day to day issues stand the test of time?
  • -How does your class, identity and place in the society influence your work?

Let us talk about all that and more, as we restart the Point8 Forums next Tuesday, at 6:00 with the artists of God City , including Antoine Williams, de’Angelo Dia, Marcus Kiser, Tomika Elise Latimer and Wolly Vinyl.

What: Presentation & Discussion led by the artists from God City
When: Tuesday, May 18, 6:00 – 7:30 pm.
Where: Mint Museum of Art (2730 Randolph Rd. 28207)
(Free and open to the public. RSVP not required)

This session of Point 8 Forum will be a part of the 10-day multiple venue art festival called Southern Holiday. More info here: http://southernholidayisrad.com/