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Gallery

One woman powers herself with a solar panel. Another wears a neon sign in her Afro. In the future as in the past, identity is never one-dimensional.

Featured here are images from “Women,” Robert Pruitt’s solo exhibit at The Studio Museum in Harlem, NY. The show is a series of large-scale portraits of black women, drawn with conté crayons on brown paper, and continues through Oct. 27, 2013.

Houston-based Robert Pruitt documents contemporary African American experience through drawings, sculptures, and videos. Robert received his BFA from Texas Southern University and an MFA from the University of Texas, Austin. His work has been featured in numerous venues throughout the country, including solo shows at the Fabric Workshop Museum in Philadelphia, Houston’s Contemporary Art Museum, and the Bakersfield Museum of Art in Bakersfield, Calif. He is also a founding member of the Houston art collective Otabenga Jones & Associates.

Images used with permission, all rights reserved, all images © copyright the artist.

The Morning News:

Who are the women in your drawings?

Robert Pruitt:

Friends of mine, my girlfriend, her friends. Once I start drawing, however, that specificity recedes a bit. The figures start to occupy a larger but somewhat more general space. There’s a universe I’m trying illustrate and fill up with these beings.

TMN:

Multiple times I’ve seen your work described as Afrofuturism, and you as an Afrofuturist. What do these labels mean to you?

RP:

That term can be constricting but I have always loved the sound of it. For me it’s about how I place us back into our own narratives, and attempt to un-other ourselves. I am interested in changing the center of the conversations we’re having.

TMN:

Art aside, what’s your favorite thing to do in Houston?

RP:

I’m very much a homebody, hermit. My time with my peers is what I get excited about the most. Really mundane outings to coffee shops and such. Although, a bunch of us recently hung out at The Flat, an after hours lounge co-owned by DJ Sun here in Houston. That place is super-chill.

TMN:

You’re also working on a comic book. How did you get into that kind of storytelling?

RP:

Yeah, we just finished that project, and we hope to make it public soon. I’m working with writer Mat Johnson who was the actual storyteller. This sort of sequential art-making is still new to me, but I was raised reading comics, so there are some aspects that felt second-nature.

TMN:

Do you collect anything?

RP:

I have collected comics off and on most of my life. Not really collecting anything at the moment.

TMN:

What makes a piece of art important?

RP:

Lord, this question is too much. I can answer for my own work. I feel like it’s doing its thing if it successfully engages a viewer’s imagination.

TMN:

Right on.

Karolle Rabarison is at home wherever she can satisfy her coffee habit. She currently lives in Washington, DC. More by Karolle Rabarison