WE EXIST: Master of Fine Arts Exhibition by Henry Obeng

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Center for Design & Material Culture
@ 10:00 am - @ 4:00 pm

April 27- May 27, 2022 | Ruth Davis Design Gallery

Third year Design Studies graduate student Henry Obeng presents WE EXIST a Master of Fine Arts Exhibit taking place April 27-MAY 27, 2022 in the Ruth Davis Design Gallery.

Obeng’s artistic practice is inspired by his concern for our natural environment as well as his love of the processes and materials available when he combines photographic images and handmade papers. A recent ethnographic study Obeng conducted on African immigrants gaining legal status made him curious about recreating their portraits with the medium of photography as well as handwritten text depicting their concerns and struggles. As a means to raise awareness about the issue and protect the identities of these immigrants, their portraits are programmed using artificial intelligence (AI) to create unfamiliar faces based on the features of those who are undocumented. These portraits are accompanied by screen-printed texts that capture the concerns expressed by these immigrants, which are layered several times creating an abstraction that conceals some detail information as well.

Printed on handmade papers made from textiles collected from immigrants, these images and prints are created exclusively on handmade papers. These textile materials hold the histories of these individuals and are conceptually an excellent choice for telling their stories. To demonstrate the process of transformation of textile materials into paper, some of these textile materials are collaged with portraits. The classification of aliens as non-citizens is artistically portrayed through the use of color photographs.

Cream colored square image with the text "we exist" placed to the right of a greyed-out photo of a black man staring at the camera with a neutral expression.