Leonardo Drew is one of my favorite artists. Something about his work I just find incredibly attractive. I’ve only ever seen one of pieces in person at the 30 Americans exhibit at the Corcoran, and in my opinion it was one of his less interesting pieces, but when I heard him speak last semester on campus, I became even more enthralled with him as an artist.
He doesn’t pretend to be more than he is and his explanations of his work aren’t laced with meanings and intended interpretations. He does what he does because it’s what he likes to do; what he finds interesting. He uses a lot of repetition and compartmentalizing in his art, which is something I’m also interested in working into my work this semester, but when someone asked him what the repetition meant, he answered that he could bullshit some explanation, but really the grids just served as a means by which to organize the piece. When someone asked him if his use of cotton had anything to do with slavery and his being African American, he replied that he simply enjoyed working with the material. The titles of his pieces are just numbers, so that the viewer isn’t influenced by his “naming” and can interpret the piece on their own.
His approach is similar to mine in that I work with what I want to work with and while I also enjoy creating work that has an intended meaning behind it, I also enjoy creating because I enjoy the material, or the process, or find it visually appealing. There doesn’t have to be more to in than that for me, and I think it’s rare that artists either admit or intend for their work to be just what it is. Even when I do create work that has meaning behind it, or addressing social/political issues, as I hope to do this semester, I prefer to approach it in broader terms so that the viewer can still have an individualized experience with it; so that I’m not spoon-feeding a message.