Sheila C. Johnson Design Center
Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries
66 Fifth Ave
Parsons School of Design

(under)REPRESENT(ed) is an exhibition that features Parsons alumni of color whose creative practices explore the lived experience of race and aim to dismantle systems of racism.

Christopher Udemezue, BFA Integrated Design Curriculum ’08

Born in Long Island, NY Christopher Udemezue has shown at a variety of galleries and museums, including the New Museum, Queens Museum of Art, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, AC Institute Art Gallery, and Envoy Enterprises. Christopher has been featured in New York magazine, The New Yorker, Artnet news, Gayletter magazine, Brooklyn Rail magazine, Afro Punk, and OUT Magazine. As the lead organizing member in the art collective House of Ladosha, Christopher’s work explores queer issues as they intertwine with the social politics of communities of color. His recent body of work utilizes his Jamaican heritage and the complexities of gender identity, desire, tragedy through personal and public mythology and public lynching as a primary source. As the founder of the platform RAGGA NYC, Christopher completed a residency with the New Museum “All The Threatened And Delicious Things Joining One Another” in June 2017, exploring Afro-Caribbean diasporic traditions, bringing together works by a group of artists who trace their own relationships to Caribbean history.

Untitled (Taken by the loa with a knife in her hand, she cut the throat of a pig and they all swore to kill all the whites on the island)

Christopher Udemezue, BFA Integrated Design Curriculum ’08
Framed photograph

“For me, my road to self-love and pride has been rooted in knowing where I come from. Looking into Caribbean history, spirituality, and my people as a whole has fast-tracked a sense of self-worth and strength — especially given the current state of the country and the world. White Americans take for granted that their history and religions are the mainstream in this country and abroad. People of color at large, and Caribbean people living here in the U.S., are often disconnected from their own story. The image of the sad slave is all I knew. All the heroes on TV are white; all the heroes in the history books are white. Where do I find my reflection? I can’t find her. To this day, queer, and POC history is often relegated to the backs of the history books, if it’s included at all. Vodou, for example — a religion with roots in non-gender-binary practice, which liberated Haiti from French control — is demonized in contemporary media and pop culture. And as Maya Monès mentions in her RAGGA NYC interview, “Like most Dominican families, mine refrained from exploring our roots, leaving me with a cloudy sense of pride in a sort of racial limbo. It felt like I was facing a foggy mirror, with a deep yearning to see and embrace the person who stood opposite me.” From the Haitian Revolution’s religious spark; from the irony of William Thomas Beckford, the largest plantation owner in Jamaica, fleeing his family in England because he was gay; from the origins of witchcraft in West Africa — the more I looked back, the more I garnered strength, yet still yearned to see myself. Where is my queer self? What are the stories of my trans sisters during the fight for freedom in Trinidad and Tobago? What are the stories of my femme brothers in Puerto Rico’s rebellions against the Spaniards? We were there, too. We have always been here. I want to see myself.”

How would you describe your day to day job and/or artistic practice?

Research, Research, Research. I've become a historian in the last couple year and a lot of my day consist of reading history and practicing new ways presenting my ideas from performance to photography.

Would you describe your career path as typical? Why or why not?

Yes and no. I work freelance design but also in nightlife and also in art so I'm spread thin but it keeps me happy.

In what ways have your identities impacted your education and career paths?

At Parsons conversations for change were encouraged but the knowledge to do so socially/ civil rights wise wasn't present. In turn I toke classes with Lang to open that frame of thought. That got me into the practice of not waiting to be educated but going out and find the information I wanted.

Posted in Artists.