“Dialogue is the beginning of Change.”
According to the Black Lives Matter website “Every twenty-eight hours a black man, woman, or child is murdered by police or vigilante law enforcement.” It is a statistic that for the African-American figurative artist Jorden Casteel cuts close to the bone and has provided an impetus for her art.
As Casteel told The Aesthete’s s a heterosexual cis[gendered] black woman, it has felt important to share the story of my relationship(s) to black men/masculinity as a daughter, sister, lover, friend, and family member. I hope that through my personal lens, I can draw a viewer into an intimate experience they might not otherwise encounter.”
Casteel grew up in Colorado in a family “dedicated to giving a voice to the voiceless.”
As she explained to The Morning News “My family, through civil rights organizations, education and philanthropy have been dedicated to social justice for multiple generations.”
Casteel embarked upon a liberal arts education in her late teens at Georgia’s Agnes Scott College studying sociology but after attending the University Of Georgia Lamar Dodd School Of Art in Italy Casteel switched to art.
“I realized I was happiest when I was painting with oils, and I wanted to find a way to make it a bigger part of my life,” Casteel told the college’s Alumni News.
After obtaining a BA with a Studio Art major from Agnes Scott, Casteel went on to get her MFA from Yale University in 2014.
With the ink barely dry on her masters Casteel was given her first New York solo exhibition at Sargent's Daughters.
Visible Man was a series of nude portraits of African-American males; friends of her twin brother. A body of work that had a voice she felt was necessary for the times with the Trayvon Martin acquittal being a catalyst.
As Casteel says in a video for the exhibition “It was a call that I got from my twin brother right after that happened, and we were both very emotional, where I couldn’t help but think that it could have been him. I felt that I need to make something more visible.”
Which she has elaborated about stating “To some, my work may be speaking directly to the Black Lives Matter movement through its emphasis on humanizing black bodies, however, I think the way black artists continue to give to the Black Lives Matter movement is by sharing their individual voices in order to bring power and understanding to a united goal — no one person is the same or should be judged as such.”
Casteel’s current exhibition Brothers is on show at Sargent's Daughters until the 15th of November.