In November I moved into a new studio space and began exploring several ideas.
An extension of the ideas that led me to my previous show “The Lies We Believe”, im juxtaposing African and other Masks in contrast to NON African artifacts or icons. These two images are process shots and these pieces are still in progress.
Ayo Scott is coming into his own. He was born into New Orleans artistic royalty as the only son of the late MacArthur Fellow John T. Scott whose sculptures dot the city. And while we can see the influence of the elder artist’s aesthetic, Ayo’s voice is distinct, clear, and strong. In this piece, Ayo revisits Michaelangelo’s sisteen chapel through the lens of the twenty-first century urban America. This large scale mixed-media piece uses metaphor to challenge the western tradition’s claim on creation stories. The piece presents a tragic comic blend of irreverence, humor, pain, and yearning, that situates Ayo squarely in the traditions of blues, jazz, and hip hop. He’s one to watch.
Artist Ayo Scott says that he began his series of post-modern digital drawings, now on display at Octavia art gallery, somewhat casually. In a classic post-modern mode, the 34-year-old artist set out to toy with the meaning of some of western art’s best known images, including Grant Wood’s “American Gothic,” Auguste Rodin’s “The Thinker,” Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” and Michelangelo’s ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
“As it started I was just playing around,” he said, “I wanted to juxtapose some European imagery with African masks.”
But by the end, Scott’s playing around had taken on a cutting edge.
Scott hoped that basing his computer drawings and collages on some of civilization’s most universal images could bridge a gap between the art world and people who don’t much care about the art world.
“I feel like I’m a liaison, to some degree,” he said, “taking art to a different generation or a different demographic. I think there are a lot of people who would appreciate art if it was presented to them in a way that didn’t come off as pretentious and what not.”
In the center of the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo depicted God at the moment he animated Adam. In the universally known illustration, their fingers almost touch. Scott began his re-imagining of the scene by placing a carved wooden mask from an African culture over Adam’s face. Placing a boom box on Adam’s shoulder transformed him into a symbol of 1980-style hip hop, Scott said.
Replacing God’s head with television broadcasting the reality series “Love and Hip Hop, Atlanta,” symbolized the way, in Scott’s view, original, socially significant rap culture has devolved into pop superficiality. The figures behind God look like characters from a painting by the sardonic African-American social critic Robert Colescott. The hot rod flames in the center lend a tongue-in-cheek low-art vibe to the proceedings.
Those thin colorful stripes that zip through the otherwise black and white drawing are flying bullets, meant to remind us of the seemingly endless gunplay that plagues New Orleans.
“It’s my way of dealing with the violence of the city without beating you over the head with the violence of the city,” Scott said. “So I wanted them to be kind of suggestive not really literal.”
In other ways, though, his indictment of gun violence is less subtle. Adam, who looks somewhat like a shooting victim, clutches a 45-caliber pistol.
In Scott’s vision, Michelangelo’s awakening of man has become a spark of social consciousness.
The Lies We Believe
Possible ratings: Wow (reserved for drop-dead art experiences such as the 2011 “Music Box/Dithyrambalina” collaborative musical sculpture environment in the Bywater or “Project Be,”Brandan Odums’ 2014 series of graffiti portraits of civil rights activists in the unoccupied Florida Housing development), Worthy(rewarding artwork you’ll discuss on the drive home) and Whatever(viewing not required)
- Rating: Worthy.
- What: Artist Ayo Scott strikes out with a socially critical suite of digital drawings and collages.
- Where: Octavia art gallery, 454 Julia St.
- When: The exhibit continues through Sept 6. Gallery hours are Tuesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- More information: Visit the Octavia gallery website or call 504.309.4249.
Those colorful bullet stripes slice unexpectedly through all of Scott’s post-modern pastiches as if, in New Orleans anyway, the unifying factor is danger. To Crescent City art lovers they may symbolize something in addition to violence. The same sort of colorful rays appeared regularly in Ayo’s father John T. Scott‘s paintings and sculpture.
The elder Scott, who died in 2007, was a longtime Xavier University professor, winner of a MacArthur Genius Award and one of New Orleans’ most renowned modernists. It’s difficult to look at Ayo’s art without searching for dad’s influence.
Ayo, who works as a graphic designer as well as a fine artist, views his dad as a great role model.
“He was just an amazing artist,” Ayo said. “I’m sure I’m biased in saying so, but he was the greatest artist I met, an incredible teacher, just a very giving person. He was always trying to get people to question what they knew of something and offer new information that was one of the things he was into.”
Ayo resists using his father’s lush colors because, he said, they’ll just take over his art. It’s not surprising. As a child, he said, even the hand-made toys his father made for him were coated with layers of bright paint.
John Scott’s work was sometimes topical, but his work was most often abstract. Ayo’s art – at least the work on display at Octavia gallery through Sept. 6 – is much more explicitly political. Those color stripes are the clearest link between the two artists.
In Ayo Scott’s retelling of “American Gothic,” the scene takes place in the post-Katrina ruin of the flooded Lower Ninth Ward. Scott’s version of “Mona Lisa” is smoking cigarettes and waiting for a cell phone call down by the river. In his satire of “The Thinker,” he poses the seated nude atop a commode, contemplating social and racial inequities. A world map spreads out at the statue’s feet. America seems to have disappeared down the drain. A colorful random bullet ricochets off of a hovering heart.
This piece is a commission for a good friend of mine. The three gods in the piece are
Durga, Hanuman, and Rama. i wanted to combine digital art and painting to create this piece.. and wanted to use the paint as a visual support element to tie together the foreground and background.
per the request of my friend. prints are available for interested parties…
Comic Book Diplomacy and The Lies We Believe D. Eric Bookhardt on new works by Christopher Saucedo& Ayo Scott
Beyond airplanes and atom bombs, few things symbolize 20th-century America more than comic book superheroes. Just as ancient Rome believed in all-powerful deities like Apollo and Minerva, kids in midcentury America — often called a new Roman empire — believed in Superman and Wonder Woman. The characters’ appeal knew no borders, and the vintage examples found by artist Christopher Saucedo on his travels were often boundlessly surreal, so he began to subtly modify them to enhance their idiosyncratic qualities and make them his own. Their multicultural appeal is seen in a poster-size blowup of a 1954 Superhombre comic book cover (pictured) with Superman, Batman and Robin grinning luridly. Their Mexican wrestler-style facial features indicate early globalism produced its share of forgeries, but even the official editions yielded bizarre cultural hybrids. Saucedo’s modifications often employ minimal and strategic touches like his sometimes-embroidered compass symbols of the sort used to indicate north on maps, emphasizing how disorienting these globalized superheroes can be. In a 1978 Hispanic version of Wonder Woman — La Mujer Maravilla — the Twin Towers loom over a New York City apocalypse scene long before 9/11, and while this entire series is entertainingly surreal, it obviously doesn’t hurt to start with such bizarre source materials.
In Ayo Scott’s solo show at Octavia Gallery, mythic beings and modern technology populate a dramatic array of collages and digital drawings. His most cogent collages include Study of a Westbank Smile, a Mona Lisa with an African spirit mask for a head posed pensively by the river amid wisps of cigarette smoke. His more rollicking digital drawings feature related carnivalesque mash-ups like pixelated riffs on Robert Colescott, but the whole show represents an eloquently cohesive evolution of Scott’s complex vision, another step in his self-described ruminations on this city’s “syncretic tensions” and “consumerism and technology’s interaction with the transcendent.” — D. ERIC BOOKHARDT
Octavia Art Gallery is pleased to present two solo exhibitions of new work by local artists James Henderson and Ayo Scott. This will be Henderson’s third solo exhibition with the gallery and Scott’s first solo show since completing the Joan Mitchell Center NOLA Studio Program.
Ayo Scott’s debut exhibition at the gallery presents his most recent mixed media works alongside his large-scale digital drawings. For Scott, the syncretic tensions present in New Orleans are at the foreground his aesthetic practice. His sensitivity to the traditions, ambitions and contradictions of his hometown allow him to create visual allegories as a means through which to explore ways of being, consumerism and technology’s interaction with the transcendent. Scott’s recent work focuses on leveraging technology to create a symbiosis between the analog and the digital. He achieves this through a reflexive technique that begins with digital collaging and juxtaposition of distinct elements drawn from European masters, African masks and popular iconography. Scott then transfers his collaged compositions onto panels and is able to paint in color and line. Continuing his process, the panel works are then photographed, color is removed, and they become a new impetus for the artist to digitally embellish each layer, generating a discourse between the technological and the traditional.
The son of nationally renowned artist John T. Scott, Ayo received his Bachelor of Arts from Xavier University. In 2008, Scott had a solo exhibition at the McKenna Museum of African American Art and his work has been included in exhibitions at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and the Louisiana Art and Science Museum. In 2011, Ayo was honored as the recipient of the Love in the Garden award from the New Orleans Museum of Art.
check out the making of “Stinker”
here’s a little bit of my process
in creating a piece for my new body of work “the Lies We Believe”
this video is the making of “STINKER” by Ayo Y. Scott
Octavia Gallery opens solo exhibitions of works by James Henderson and Ayo Scott
NEW ORLEANS, LA.- Octavia Art Gallery is presenting two solo exhibitions of new work by local artists James Henderson and Ayo Scott. This is Henderson’s third solo exhibition with the gallery and Scott’s first solo show since completing the Joan Mitchell Center NOLA Studio Program. Continuing to explore the inner workings of the body and mind, James Henderson’s new series of work focuses on the theme of personal archeology. Inspired by the statement that “the body ages and changes over time but human emotion does not age,” the artist collages vintage imagery, patterns and silhouetted forms with layers of plaster and pigment. The textured surface is then sanded down to reveal specific remnants. Henderson’s process can be seen as mimicking the dichotomy between ones internal self and perceived exterior. Through Henderson’s visual imagery, the artist challenges the viewer to look beyond perceived notions to see what lies beneath. Ayo Scott’s debut exhibition at the gallery presents his most recent mixed media works alongside his large-scale digital drawings. For Scott, the syncretic tensions present in New Orleans are at the foreground his aesthetic practice. His sensitivity to the traditions, ambitions and contradictions of his hometown allow him to create visual allegories as a means through which to explore ways of being, consumerism and technology’s interaction with the transcendent. Scott’s recent work focuses on leveraging technology to create a symbiosis between the analog and the digital. He achieves this through a reflexive technique that begins with digital collaging and juxtaposition of distinct elements drawn from European masters, African masks and popular iconography. Scott then transfers his collaged compositions onto panels and is able to paint in color and line. Continuing his process, the panel works are then photographed, color is removed, and they become a new impetus for the artist to digitally embellish each layer, generating a discourse between the technological and the traditional. James Henderson lives and works in New Orleans, LA. He has exhibited his work throughout Louisiana and most recently had a solo exhibition at Northwestern State University, Natchitoches, LA. Henderson’s work can be found in private collections in San Francisco, Boston, Dallas, New Orleans and New York. The son of nationally renowned artist John T. Scott, Ayo received his Bachelor of Arts from Xavier University. In 2008, Scott had a solo exhibition at the McKenna Museum of African American Art and his work has been included in exhibitions at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and the Louisiana Art and Science Museum. In 2011, Ayo was honored as the recipient of the Love in the Garden award from the New Orleans Museum of Art.
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this is an in progress sketch
of a work for my upcoming show.
its entitled “STINKER”