Shawn Theodore: Artist Statement 2018

Shawn Theodore photographed by friend and colleague    Laurent B. Chevalier

Shawn Theodore photographed by friend and colleague Laurent B. Chevalier

Shawn Theodore attended Tyler School of Art and received his BA in Journalism, Public Relations and Advertising from Temple University.  

He is currently based in Philadelphia and travels often for photography assignments, research, lectures, exhibitions and similar intellectual endeavors.

His solo exhibition highlights include:

  • ‘One Leaf Does Not a Cypress Make’, 2018 | Hudson Valley Community College, Troy, NY.

  • 'Church of Broken Pieces', 2017 | Richard Beavers Gallery NYC.

  • Ctrl+P, 'A Selection of Church of Broken Pieces' | Catherine Edelman Gallery, 2017, Chicago.

  • 'Future Antebellum', 2017 | Art Sanctuary, Philadelphia.

  • 'Church of Broken Pieces', 2017 | African American Museum in Philadelphia.


His group exhibition highlights include:

  • Shifting Gaze: A Reconstruction of The Black & Hispanic Body in Contemporary Art’ 2018 | The Mennello Museum of Art, Orlando

  • 'Legacy of the Cool: A Tribute to Barkley L. Hendricks' 2018 | Boston.

  • 'Shabazz / Theodore', 2018 | Orlando.

  • Prizm Art Fair, 2017 and 2016 | Miami.

  • 'InVision Photo Festival', 2017 | Bethlehem, PA.

  • 'We Are Stronger Together', 2017 | Rush Arts Philadelphia, in partnership with The Barnes Foundation.

  • Other Articulations of the Real, 2017 | The Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College

  • 'OFF WHITE’, 2016 | MoCADA Museum, Brooklyn.

For a detailed CV, please visit this page.

Shawn Theodore's (b. 1970) artistic practice merges real and hypothesized mythological black experiences set within contemporary, yet fading, black environments. While the intent of his work is to shift stereotypical frameworks and false representations of African Americans and African Diasporan individuals, his overarching goal is to center black individuals and their communities as trans-historical, transnational, and metaphysical entities mobilizing against erasure in all forms.

Set to the visual texture of black life, his work demonstrates physical and spiritual resistance to systematic oppression and provides a necessary metaphorical connection to African legacies and traditions in visual narrative form. The act of creating images and agency within predominantly black neighborhoods is meant to awaken the dormant identifiers attached to black places, culture, and attitude to illuminate how African Americans continuously express a cultural connection to the African Diaspora while fulfilling the need for African American myths as altered histories and shared memories.

In this regard this view of blackness resonates with a self-assured authority -- with or without the black figure present -- negating displacement, gentrification, and socio-economic disparity; the weight of assembled woes that dull the vibrancy of African American life, and demands a sustained attentiveness to the measurable agency brimming in the everyday African American neighborhood. These depictions weave together the ‘nigritudo in motu’; corporeal elements composed of the essential spirit, rich cultures, histories, and possible mythologies driving ‘black life’.

Shawn Theodore represents the new generation of contemporary visual artists who are using their gifts to combat negative stereotypes and foster images that reaffirm and empower. In use of his third eye, he makes his subjects who are all too often deemed invisible, not only visible, but relevant in a world where people of color are projected as unimportant, and irrelevant. His mastery of light and composition are evident in all of his stunning and insightful creations.
— Jamel Shabazz, October 2016