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I asked Kincaid to talk a bit about differences in the look and feel of St. Louis and Labadi. “Both places are beautiful in their own ways. You don’t see bricks here. Every time I’m away from St. Louis there is a strange desiderium for things made from bricks. Visually, things are very colorful here. People repaint their houses fairly often so you see the neighborhood gradually shifting its color palettes. I love the look of peeling paint-you see lots of layers of peeling paint in different places not really on homes but on shops and stands. I love it, the textures and colors are so amazing, very visually stimulating. The color of people’s skin against a bright pink or blue wall is so lovely; The colors really dance here. In that way it really reminds me of New Orleans. That’s the only city in the United States that I have seen with the multitude of color that I see here but you also see how New Orleans in many ways is very connected to its African roots. Another visual difference comes from the high population density. The houses are closely packed and in a lot of cases connected to one another, divided by pathways with only a few major roads. The city is more western looking. Accra is a really major city. Sometimes it looks like New York even, but imagine a busy area of New York with all black people. People spend a lot more time outside here. In the neighborhood most of daily life happens outside, probably because the weather is perfect everyday. Beautiful and sunny, it wouldn’t make any sense to cook and live indoors. I think this brings people together too. You are never really alone here. There are always people near by and everyone greets one another. There are no strangers, it seems.The main difference is that I never feel like I’m on guard here. In St. Louis whenever I get in my car I’m immediately on guard. I know that just by operating a vehicle I can be potentially accosted by the police for no reason. Almost annually since I started driving I have been pulled over by the police for no reason. It happens a little bit less now that I have a nicer car but in

Tara Daniels, Home Is Where the Hate Is, A Portrait of Basil Kincaid (photo credit: Tara Daniels)

high school I was driving a 1984 Chevy Silverado I loved that truck, but driving in Ladue or Clayton to see various friends gave me trouble on a number of occasions. I would be pulled over, questioned and provoked, and then after the game of “Yes, sir” and “No, sir,” after staying calm and respectful, speaking my ‘best’ English, I would be let go. I love St. Louis with all my heart but in many ways it really is the belly of the beast as far as issues of race are concerned and we are seeing that truth more than ever now. St. Louis has a relatively strong sense of tight- knit community but only after you’ve been accepted into the different circles. St. Louis is real cliquey which leads to these small overlapping communities or collectives. I would like to see work towards a wider sense of city-wide unity. I want to collaborate with all sorts of people to bring that about.” The Huffington Post published a poem “The Longsuffering of Open Eyes” and seven digital collages that juxtapose police response to peaceful protests in the United States throughout history that Kincaid created in response to his feelings surrounding the pattern of violence against black people that reaches back to the era of Jim Crow and Slavery. I asked him to tell me about that work. “I don’t see how it’s any different for a black man to be killed every 28 hours by the police in 2013 and a black man being killed everyday by vigilantes in 1913, or by slave masters in 1813 or 1713. We are still being murdered on a daily basis. In 1963 the police responded the same way that they did in 2014 to the protests. Peaceful protests are met with violent police measures and it’s a pattern. That’s what inspired the collages. I wanted to elucidate this unbroken link to history. I wanted to raise questions surrounding how so much time can pass with so little change. People think things are better now than they were in the 1950s but that makes me laugh. Back then we were fighting for rights, now we are fighting for life. Nothing has really changed. The judicial pattern in response to these murders is showing that innocent black men don’t deserve to live and that police are justified to murder us for no reason. These police murders are essential to the maintenance of white supremacy in that they confirm in reality the constructed, mediagenerated images that show black people as subhuman. We have to address the media’s role in the construction of consciousness. The way the media even talks about black and white crimes or news stories in general works to support a distorted image of black people. I want to do more than merely make collages and poems but these are the gifts that I have and I want to use my art and my words to change the perception of black people and to unify the American cultural landscape at large. I have to use art to respond and reclaim public space. In the Reclamation of discarded items and spaces we show the potential ARTIST INTERVIEWS

Jamie Kreher, Cowboys Platter (photo credit: Jamie Kreher)

for our own healing and transformation as a discarded people. I feel very strongly that art can help activate consciousness and guide healing or provide spaces for healing, this is what I want my art to do. I want my art to bring people together and inspire people to collaborate and engage in this process of liberation for mutual agency together.”


A few of artist Jamie Kreher’s photo platters from her “American Mythologies Project” recently made their way to New York as part of a group show, “A Donkey is a Lion. Insecticide, A Message From God.” I asked her to relate the ways that her “Mythologies” are Midwestern. “The photographs for the series were taken while on day trips or driving cross country. The bulk of them are from the Midwest. St. Louis as subject matter is instinctive. I’m compelled to take the photos I take. Only in retrospect, as I examine the composition and the content of each, do I find meaning. While reviewing my work I see reflections of my political, cultural, sociological thoughts embedded within the subjects and composition. The photo-platters are a means of tying the useful to the contemplative and, in some rather obvious ways, they may be Midwestern in their nature. I have Midwestern sensibility – I’m ok with that. They are ‘Pragmatic Idealist Platters.’” Kreher has moved through a series of varied approaches to her photography. What is very consistent in these is the way in which each project works to try and engage both her and her audience in some new, unexpected way. “In 2012, I placed small photos across folding tables at the Good Citizen Gallery. Viewers became participants as they picked up and arranged the photographs. In this way I could bring gallery visitors into conversation about the role of photography in our lives. I wanted to highlight the democratic nature of the art form when viewed in its vernacular, printed in unlimited editions, in a common scale. I wanted to celebrate the unfussy, inexpensive forms of photography everyone can access to provide a foil to more rarified work that is expected in an art market.”


AlltheArtSTL Spring 2015  

Bringing art to the people and people to the art in Saint Louis

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