Founder / Artist:
J. Benjamin Burney
J. Benjamin is a second year student at the University of Colorado Boulder pursuing a Dual Masters degree in Fine Art Practices and an MBA in Entrepreneurship. He is a storyteller and uses art to dismantle oppression while simultaneously uplifting images, objects, and ideas that are inclusive, diverse, and a unifying force for African American identity.
I am a storyteller. I use the mediums of film, photography, poetry, music, graphic design, and fashion to tell the stories of African Americans from three perspectives: the historical, spiritual, and personal. My artwork works to dismantle the negative images construed by racism and attempts to develop a unifying national identity for African Americans. I use multiple mediums to create mosaic collages, which pull from contrasting elements of our culture and create an inclusive depiction of African American life.
I employ photography and filmmaking to capture historical moments and to design narratives that depict African Americans in atypical roles. My graphic designs, poetry, and music are steeped in the rhythms and themes of blues, jazz, hip-hop, and traditional African religious practices. By telling modern stories through historical themes I yoke the present with the past and show the necessity of both for the growth and preservation of culture. I design fashion to comment on current societal issues such as policing, gender roles, and appropriation and also to create an immersive experience where the universal becomes personal simply by dressing up.
My art applies the principles of auto-ethnography to connect personal experiences to the wider cultural narrative of African Americans—a narrative sustained through folklore, religion, rebellion, freedom, and love. My art parallels the works of: Romare Bearden, Langston Hughes, and Simone Leigh. These artists apply auto-ethnography to multiple mediums and turn personal anecdotes into cultural artifacts. My art is a mirror and recognizes the act of living as a form of protest against the incessant onslaught of systemic racism. My art seeks to suture the wounds of oppression by establishing a connection to images and stories that educate us on our distorted history, critique our modern culture, and raise us to our greatest hopes.
-J. Benjamin Burney