Noel W. Anderson is known for his explorations into the evolving makeup of black male identity as seen through the lens of American media.
Noel W. Anderson, Blak Origin Moment, Installation view, Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH, 2017
Anderson’s photographic source materials—from political activists like Martin Luther King, Jr., to a group of prisoners lined up against a prison fence, to sports heroes like basketball player Spud Webb—collectively prompt the viewer to consider their own relationship to the distorted depiction of Black masculinity in American culture.
Using a variety of materials, predominantly textiles and experimental printmaking processes, the source images are heavily manipulated—blown up, warped and distorted, limbs bending into unrealistic postures, as though the images are transforming right before our eyes.
In Anderson’s textile-based pieces, the distorted photos from his archive are translated into woven fabric, which he then picks apart, thread by thread, until the image becomes barely legible. The source photographs have become so distressed that they can no longer articulate what they once represented.
Noel W. Anderson was born in Louisville, KY and lives and works in New York. He has an MFA from Yale University in Sculpture and MFA from Indiana University in Printmaking, and is currently a professor in Printmaking at New York University. In 2018, he was awarded the NYFA artist fellowship grant and the prestigious Jerome Prize.
Anderson’s most recent solo museum exhibition Blak Origin Moment debuted at the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati in 2017 and traveled to the Hunter Museum in Chattanooga, TN in 2019. He has an upcoming solo project at the Telfair Museum in Savannah, Georgia, titled Heavy is the Crown, which uses the words and images of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rodney King to articulate the spectrum of Black masculinity in America.