Artist Rico Gatson Speaks at SUNY Lecture Series: Artist Explores Racial Identity in Popular American Culture

NEW PALTZ — The Art Lecture Series at SUNY New Paltz has invited Rico Gatson to present a lecture about his work on Wednesday, March 13, 2002. Mr. Gatson uses multiple disciplines to explore issues of race, racism, and their presence in popular culture. His presentation begins at 7:30pm in Lecture Center room 102. The event is free an open to all. Images are available at Gatson utilizes a variety of materials and processes in his work. In his recent solo exhibitions he has presented video installations, slide projections, drawings, and architectural elements that expose issues born out of the American suburban psyche. He challenges the racial and political ideas that drive our subjective and prejudiced views by isolating nostalgic, almost cloying, elements of our heritage then charging them with satire. His creative wit and ironic use of symbolic racial imagery transcends the subject and becomes a highly revealing form of political art.

In his earlier work Gatson dealt with the exaggeration of the black image in popular American culture, especially historical blackface. In his new work he explores issues dealing with racial identity as viewed by the popular culture. This obviously can be very tricky and dangerous territory, but his use of repetition, accumulation and humor transforms meaning, not to hide, but to contextualize his characterization of prejudice.

Gatson has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions in and around New York City, including the highly acclaimed show “Freestyle,” held at the Studio Museum in Harlem. In an article titled “The New Masters,” Vibe magazine refers to Gatson and the other participants as “extraordinary…the latest revelers from the hip hop nation” (May 2001). Last year, Gatson was the recipient of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Biennial Award for Visual Arts. In 1998 he was an Artist-in-Residence at the Franconia Sculpture Park in Taylor Falls, Minnesota.

For information on other upcoming arts events at SUNY New Paltz, go to, or call 845-257-3872. Images by Rico Gatson are available on the web at

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