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Tony Rave

  I make disruptive art that challenges Black representation in America through “benevolent” white religious symbols. As a Black Millennial male artist, art is the sacred space for provocative social commentary. Art is a productive outlet for Black anger which creates space for critical dialogue in my community. My practice allows me to safely channel rage that I and many Black men experience on a daily basis. Simply walking down a street or driving a car at the “wrong time” or the “wrong place” can be a death sentence for Black men. Art is one of the few safe places left for us to speak our truths. Black people are continually surrounded by “white religious propaganda”. My work explores how racism is expressed through so-called holy religious white symbols used to maintain racial hierarchies and justify violence against Black male bodies. Recently, I curated and altered white porcelain figurines using found objects and high gloss black paint. I defaced white facial features and painted exaggeratedly large red lips onto the pieces. The result mimics popular 19th Century Minstrel shows that symbolized the appropriation and distortion of Black culture in music, fashion, and language. By “desecrating” white religious objects, I strip the object of its “sacred” or “holy” status. This highlights whiteness while using the racist tool of Black Face to question white supremacy itself. My work is intended to be provocative. I engage the viewer in an emotional dialogue in what I perceive to be psychological warfare waged through white religious propaganda. By flipping the script through these altered pieces I reclaim and lift up embodied Blackness through this unique view of “AmeriKKKa”. In doing so, I create space where Black rage, self-representation and self-love are truly blessed.