Volume Two, Issue 1

Keith Duncan

The origins in my art is narrative and my images with familiar signifiers embodies everything that is unique, diverse, and “creolized” in the manner of storytelling. Undoubtedly, I am a storyteller signifying the human condition in the old South, most importantly, in a post-Katrina era. I paint about my environment around me. My works are discoveries and a creative process from the ‘autobiography becoming the iconography’ and in search of seeing the image as a new invention or archetype. Within my vernacular I want to produce a distinct language that has literature, poetic or narrative in content. For the most part, in my style of work I am a surrealist at heart. Eventually, in 2010 my art changed drastically. The concept was to embrace my southern heritage and my roots. I was observing and studying art of African American quilts of the South, Faith Ringgold’s quilt paintings and the later works of Robert Gwathmey in which all aesthetically influenced my current art. By the use of fabrics or textile patterns and flags in my background each choice has to relate to a specific theme or topic of a particular subject matter. Interestingly, this has created a tapestry of images and narratives that most recently in my art I have discovered why I use textile patterns and flags in my paintings. In the Mande and A’kan regions of the Kongo (in West Africa) men uses or dominates the textile/fabric cloth materials (i.e., quilts, cloths and pattern traditions) but, here in the U.S. there was a “gender leap”, in which African American women dominates the usage of textile fabrics, in particularly (quilts) in the South. Therefore, I use pattern, in my background as a means to connect with my roots and heritage. Indeed, the connection is far beyond the South. Ultimately, I am doing something “Ancestral”. Accordingly, another major inspiration of my works come from my Father; his real stories in folkloric manner has been

a vital source of my new artworks. As a result, there is both a message in my art that can be “disturbing” to the viewer but yet allows invitation through my illustrative/ animated approach in my drawings and paintings. Furthermore, this is my focus, local subcultures and folkcultures in my environment which has developed into an investigation of the southern region. My paintings of Southern culture through the use of traditional motifs and postmodern language in realm of AfroAmerican narratives “ signifying”, along with social street art has created an aesthetic that is both current and yet aware of its historical past.


Keith Duncan received a BFA from Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, La., and a MFA in studio art from Hunter College (CUNY) New York, N.Y. His solo exhibitions include El TallerBoricua Gallery, New York, N.Y.; Danny Simmon’s Corridor Gallery, Brooklyn, N.Y.; CUE Arts Foundation, New York, N.Y.; Artsproject and GSL Gallery, New Orleans, La. Selected group exhibitions include Art in General, David Beitzel Gallery, RushArts Gallery, Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, N.Y.; Williamsburg Music Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Bronx River Arts Center & Gallery, Bronx, N.Y.; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Pontiac, MI; Tustin Center, Philadelphia, PA; Artist Center & Gallery, Richmond, VA. Recent exhibits include Ogden Museum, Stella Jones Gallery, Prospect 2 New Orleans, Barrister Gallery, The Front Gallery, Octavia Gallery, The Joan Mitchell Center Gallery, and 2114 Gallery, New Orleans, La. He was awarded the Camille Cosby Fellowship, The Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant, and in 2001 his work was commissioned for NASA, Washington, D.C., also in 2011 he received The Drop program grant. His art residencies include Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture, Skowhegan, ME. In 2013 he was in the Joan Mitchell Foundation pilot program, New Orleans, La. Duncan has taught art for over 20 years in New York, Harlem and the Bronx area; Also in post-Katrina New Orleans 2008/2014.

He has taught as an Adjunct Professor at Dillard University in 2014. Duncan currently resides in Gretna, La., as an artist and educator of Fine Arts.


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