The first in a series highlighting the artists featured in this summer’s “Neighbors” art exhibit running in conjunction with the Essential Theatre Festival.
Alfred Conteh exhibits two three-dimensional works in the show, “Neighbors.” Conteh has long been associated with this area. He maintains a studio practice as part of a collective in the Metropolitan warehouses. He currently has works on display at ZuCot Gallery, 100 Centennial Olympic Park Dr., S.
from Alfred Conteh: Growing up in a small southern college town, there weren’t many places in my area where I could be exposed to fine art. Comic books and cartoons were my main sources of inspiration to create art. I drew constantly, and my parents were very supportive in allowing me to express myself. Their untiring efforts to educate my siblings and myself about our family’s heritage and African-American culture and philosophy assisted my eventually finding my path to becoming a narrative artist.
At Hampton University, my classmates were as talented as I was and the competitive environment in which I created became invaluable to my work ethic. Classes, workshops, and meeting national/international artists-in-residence widened my acceptance of incorporating a more diverse array of unfamiliar subject matter into the fabric of my work. Also, as a student at a historically black institution, the impetus for my efforts was infused with reflecting the imagery, symbology, and mindset of the environment that surrounded me.
In graduate school, I had the time and facilities to experiment and formulate my own visual voice. The process of “making” became far more personal to me at this time. My experiences as a thinking man, a Southerner, and an African American in this world, all found their way into how i expressed myself. It was here that my conviction and confidence as an artist combined to make my work truly important to me.
Now, I’m engaged in taking my work in more unconventional directions and exhibiting to larger audiences. Traveling and exposure to greater artists than myself has immensely broadened my understanding of what I do and hope to do. In time, I would hope that my work would allow me to travel more extensively to communicate to young black artists about the importance of recording and reflecting themselves and their community through art.