The first time I ever showed art, as far as I can remember, I showed a piece inspired by David Hammons. I was about 25 years old and it was part of the first Meow Wolf exhibition at the old Hopewell space. I made a sculpture out of dreadlocks I had cut off my head the year before (yes, I know---wack), I strung them from the ceiling and underneath was a flower pot in which I had placed dry ice and a strobe light, then filled with water. The piece was titled "Gloryhole", hopefully I get to recreate it one day. Anyways, it was a straight David Hammons rip-off and the RISD kids thought it was a waste of space.
Hammons once noted that he wished he could create art like James Turrell's light sculptures, but do it in a distinctly black way. I think he has, not necessarily with light, but he has achieved this minimalist effect with materials that are about the African American experience, items like the shovel, the saxophone, liquor bottles, hair, grease, broken objects, and refuse. His work is the African American answer to minimalism, I read a commentary on him that noted that he takes one object and does one thing to it, and that is basically what his art is about. I think that's accurate in many instances, although he has certainly made some detailed work.
David Hammons has been immensely influential at different moments in my career, or journey as an artist. There was that initial showing with Meow Wolf, then there was the second show we did, Indoor Winter Activities, I had created 40 tissue roses (the kind guys make for their girls in jail on Valentine's Day), and then placed them inside this old beat up bass amp. I had set a Discman on top to play a cd of this really gentle ambient music that I made by time stretching music to about 400%. Much later, in 2015, I made paper collages and drawings using grease, kool aid, old magazines, comic books, and dirt, which reminded my Uncle of that part from Art School Confidential where they call that kind of work "Cy Twombly shit". From 2016 to 2018, I created a couple assemblages out of garbage, old porno flyers, scrapwood, dirt, oil paint, spray paint, acrylic, nails, screws, and old speakers, and electronics parts. Right now, I am creating things from nothing but scrap wood, trying to get at the minimalist wisdom of David Hammons himself. It's really difficult for me, if you have seen my other work, you will know what I mean.
Hammons was important because he taught me to make art with whatever I had available. I don't think he ever bought paints or bought paper or anything like that. A lot of the work of his I am familiar with was constructed from glue, bottles, wire, hair, or created by bouncing dirty basketballs across a surface. He truly is a genius. I am trying to get back to the essence of Hammons in my work at the moment. It's cultural but not really about accepting stereotypes or rejecting stereotypes, it exists somewhere in between or outside, which is what jazz was about. The underground, the cracks in the scales, or beginning phrases on the offbeats. His work is not perfectly measure or metered and it often is constructed from materials that have been degraded. It's truly remarkable. While I don't feel that he is as much of a hero to me as he seemed to be to my father, he still is an influence and he always will be.
Composer, Artist, Writer