Junkanooacome: A Holiday Special
2020, Performance and digital documentation. Dimensions vary. Photo credit: M. Charlene Stevens.
Oasa DuVerney’s portrait of Obama includes the text ‘not an eraser’. These words with Obama’s image certifies his legacy and renders his service as indelible. DuVerney’s use of graphite is personal and bold, yet impermanent, leaving the viewer to ponder with the notion of making one’s mark. The “House Head'' character of my ongoing performance work, Junkanooacome is the leader of a masquerade who represents the head of the plantation or the government by wearing a White House headpiece. In the performance, I wore the house hat and installed a fact about President Jefferson by augmenting a street sign on Jefferson Avenue, Brooklyn.
The Illustrated Guide To Not Being So Fucking Racist Vol. I Not an Eraser
2011, graphite on paper, 15 3/4 x 12 1/2 inches
“The Illustrated Guide To Not Being So Fucking Racist is a series of drawings about micro agressions I started making in 2009 after the election of Barack Obama as president of the United States. There was so much chatter, in the news, at work, in the mostly white MFA program I was in, at my kids mostly white school that they attended on scholarship about this post racial society that we were all suddenly living in; white people were literally high-fiving each other on a job well done, smiling ear to ear and attempting embraces with their token black friend or domestic workers as if we had all just ascended and descended this mountain together; it would have been laughable if the truth wasn't so tragic. NOT AN ERASER was a response to that moment."
(quote from the artist)
The Fourth of July is Yours, Not Mine
2015, oil on canvas, 48 x3 6 inches.
“I am interested in the value of racialized black bodies in contemporary America, which has a long history of violence against its black population through slavery, Jim Crow, and mass incarceration. The title for this piece comes from a speech given by Frederick Douglass on July 5, 1852, at an event commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It was a scathing speech in which Douglass told his audience, ‘This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.’ The sentiments given by Douglass so many years ago are eerily as relevant today as they were then.”