We asked two LSU School of Art students, Eli Casiano and John Alleyne, to visit the exhibition Reflections: African American Life from the Myrna Colley-Lee Collection and create their own piece inspired by the work on display. Take a look at what inspired them and the results below.
Eli Casiano’s work reflects his experiences growing up Chicano in the rural south. He uses painting and collage to re-contextualize family stories that grapple with social stratification and dominant perceptions of racial difference. His work satirizes the bleak and brutal ideologies underpinning the concept of "Americana" by drawing on family photographs and pop culture imagery. He explores the dissonance between his Tejano heritage and his continual aspiration to feel normal in a white space. He is an Oklahoma native with a BFA in painting from East Central University, and is currently pursuing his MFA at LSU.
Inspiration: Elizabeth Catlett, New Generation, 1992, Lithograph, From the Myrna Colley-Lee Collection.
Response: Eli Casiano, You Will Carry the Weight of the World, 2017, Acrylic and graphite on found lithograph.
Inspiration: Hale Woodruff; Trusty on a Mule; 1939, 1996 restrike; linocut, From the Myrna Colley-Lee Collection.
Response: Eli Casiano, White Buffalo, 2017, digital print.
Inspiration: Gwen Knight, Girl, 2004, silkscreen on paper, From the Myrna Colley-Lee Collection.
Response: Eli Casiano, Melting Boy, 2017, mixed media.
As a child growing up on the island of Barbados, John Alleyne remembers the composition book having omnipresence in his household. Placed on these composition books were stickers of loved characters or superheroes as diverse as Mickey Mouse, Batman, Superman, and Goku from Dragon Ball Z. These characters acted as representations of the children themselves and stood for what they would like to become—strong, fearless, and brave, yet compassionate toward humanity.
In his paintings and sculptures, he depicts replicas of the composition book aesthetic, replacing its generic label, and black and white marble pattern with dreadlock-inspired designs. Typically, the images in his paintings depict African-American and Afro-Caribbean themes. He incorporates the composition book’s universality and strategically places “stickers” of appropriated imagery to depict the concept of the Heroism, to explore representations of Blackness and comment on Black history and identity.
John received his BFA in Digital design from SUNY Potsdam in New York, and is currently pursuing his MFA at Louisiana State University.
Inspiration: Romare Bearden, Memories (from Ritual Bayou Series), 1970–1971, photolithograph and collage on board, From the Myrna Colley-Lee Collection.
Response: John Alleyne, Study for Never Eat and Forget, 2017, serigraph.
Inspiration: Top: Ernest Crichlow, Underground I, 1988, acrylic on paper, From the Myrna Colley-Lee Collection. Bottom: Ernest Crichlow, Underground II, 1989, acrylic on board, From the Myrna Colley-Lee Collection.
Response: Top: John Alleyne, Tropical Depression I, 2017, acrylic on canvas. Bottom: John Alleyne, Tropical Depression II, 2017, acrylic on canvas.
Reflections, on display at LSU MOA through Sunday, October 1, 2017, is organized by International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC, in collaboration with the office of Myrna Colley-Lee.