by Andre Burks
Being the product of a Mexican mother and a Black father has left me struggling internally with identity and left me floating in-between these cultures, asking myself from an early age, “What am I more of? Who am I.” In my mind, I felt pressured by society to choose, to categorize myself. This inner / outer conflict brought on battles ranging from abuse, anxiety, heartbreak, alienation, eating disorders, and depression.
Through this series of experimental paintings and digital composites, it was my intention to detail feeling lost amongst the crowd. I addressed issues of inadequacy increasingly present among young adults due to factors outside of our control. Included is what it is like for someone like me to grow up having an understanding of reality not from the center, but from the sidelines.
Afterglow is a series of self-portraits which represent what it is like having to hide in the outskirts due to my inability to assimilate. I used mixed media, inspired by Abstract Expressionism, a technique that made sense to me and my feeling of “otherness” in that the non-traditional materials represent dissonance. This unconventional way of painting correlates to the unbalanced thinking I’ve experienced as a person that dealt with depression.
I have sought closure and peace to a tempestuous chapter. It’s been important to discuss what it is like for an entire generation of multi-racial children to grow up in a society where we are still labelled “other.” I’d like to think that my generation has been paramount to unifying our multi-racial society. My life as a young adult having to check the box labelled “other” in regards to ethnicity is what inspired Afterglow