2022 State Fellow
Year of Award
Grant or Fellowship
Southern Prize and State Fellowship
It is exhausting to exist as a multi-racial man in America. In 1978, my West Indian mother illegally entered the United States by way of New York. She relinquished her Caribbean heritage and adopted a pseudonym. She met my African-American father at a funeral, fell in love and relocated to North Carolina. She slowed her speech and was taught how to cook soul food. I had an older brother. He was the only person on earth that looked like me. In 2018 he was shot and killed by a Georgia State Patrol officer.
This body of work explores the constructs of self-identity. I study assimilation as a means of survival and view cultural appropriation as a tactic used to preserve whiteness. I look to the omnipresent pop culture that concurrently borrows and dismisses ideas and identities. The work confronts societal, racial and cultural disparities by employing literal forms of appropriation. The reexamination of the term “white” is an example of this. As well as the implementation of fairer skin tones on surfaces of the art work.
Through self-reflection and humor I examine the fallacies present in the national politics of social identity. I admittedly face my own deficiencies while aimlessly denying responsibility. As a result, the work is both self aware and irreverent. While quietly clamoring for justice for the deceased, the work attempts to deescalate the highly accepted parable of our “White savior”.
Our paradoxical existence brings to light the lack of aura that is represented by the visceral sitcom called humanity.
Antonio Darden was born in small town near Raleigh, North Carolina. At the age of seven, he relocated with his family to a suburb outside Atlanta, Georgia. Darden went on to graduate with his BFA from Georgia State University in Three-dimensional Design with a concentration in sculpture in 2006. He and fellow artist Matt Sigmon created the performance and installation artist collaborative, The Art Officials, in 2009. Darden is the founder and creative director for Radha David, a design/build firm launched in 2011. He has curated a number of exhibitions and has been included in shows in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Mexico. His work is currently in the City of Atlanta, Office of Cultural Affairs collection as well as the Atlanta University Center, Robert W. Woodruff Library's collection. Antonio Darden currently lives and works in Atlanta, Georgia.
Medium: IKEA cabinet door, acrylic sheet, mdf, cast rubber
Size (h x w x d): 70" x 55" x 4"
Inspired by Officer Jon Slugfish from the cartoon Spongebob Squarepants, this self -reflective sculpture is composed of an old IKEA cabinet door (Officer), 1/2" white acrylicand 1/8" black acrylic laminated onto mdf (eyes), and cast rubber (lips).
It's me, O Lord
Medium: Poplar, digital print, acrylic sheet, chain, resin
Size (h x w x d): 26" x 18" x 2.5"
A celebration of verse by Gospel singer John Pee Kee (image). Carved 2" poplarwood. Typeface borrowed from one of artist's best friends (tattoo artist) whose work ismorbid in tone. Digital print of gospel artist sandwiched in plexiglass. Cast plasticpraying hand emoji suspended by painted dog chain.