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Shawn Theodore‘s (b. 1970) artistic practice merges real and hypothesized mythological black experiences set within contemporary, yet fading, black environments. While the intent of his work is to shift stereotypical frameworks and false representations of African Americans and African Diasporan individuals, his overarching goal is to center black individuals and their communities as trans-historical, transnational, and metaphysical entities mobilizing against erasure in all forms.
Set to the visual texture of black life, his work demonstrates physical and spiritual resistance to systematic oppression and provides a necessary metaphorical connection to African legacies and traditions in visual narrative form. The act of creating images and agency within predominantly black neighborhoods is meant to awaken the dormant identifiers attached to black places, culture, and attitude to illuminate how African Americans continuously express a cultural connection to the African Diaspora while fulfilling the need for African American myths as altered histories and shared memories.
In this regard this view of blackness resonates with a self-assured authority — with or without the black figure present — negating displacement, gentrification, and socio-economic disparity; the weight of assembled woes that dull the vibrancy of African American life, and demands a sustained attentiveness to the measurable agency brimming in the everyday African American neighborhood. These depictions weave together the ‘nigritudo in motu’; corporeal elements composed of the essential spirit, rich cultures, histories, and possible mythologies driving ‘black life’.
Shawn Theodore attended Tyler School of Art and received his BA in Journalism, Public Relations and Advertising from Temple University. He is currently enrolled at Savannah College of Art and Design for his MFA in Photography. He is currently based in Philadelphia and is a professor at the University of the Arts. Theodore travels often for photography assignments, research, lectures, exhibitions, and similar intellectual endeavors.
[…] Shawn Theodore is a fine art photographer. He also teaches at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and is beginning to explore sculptural works. He is engaged in questioning how he uses his artistic voice and practice and how he can expand upon this. One of his current projects investigates Afro-Mythology, exploring historically black communities in conjunction with spiritual folklore. This led him to some interesting conclusions about the lack of myth in these communities and breathed life to a series of allegorical photography. To hear more from Shawn Theodore about his work, both past and present, his own family history and much more, listen to the complete interview. […]