As both writer and visual artist, my interests are identity-related themes associated with speculative fiction, technology, and a futuristic African Diaspora. But full disclosure: I am not all that technologically savvy, I donít have any cool computer tricks, my work still remains rooted to paper, canvas and wood. But I am utterly fascinated by the philosophical and cultural implications of how technology is used by humans.
Both internal and external struggles challenge how I define my space in this world as woman, artist, writer, woman artist, Black woman, Black woman artist, and so on. Not necessarily, in the order listed. Inspired by author Octavia Butler, and artist Romare Bearden, I am intrigued by non-linear composition,layering conceptual elements on top of one another to tell a cohesive story.
Iíve also been fascinated by the pairing of color with words for much of my life, and explore the combination within my work. It all started with the book Green Eggs and Ham, one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books as a child. I think it was the first time I really ďgotĒ color; it added so much depth to the book. A simple portrayal conveys a complex message - being open to trying new things, and meeting the life-long challenges of adaptability, movement and change. If it werenít for the color of the eggs, what would be the point in reading the book?
And finally, the pairing of color and words is balanced by my need to resolve textural issues. For instance, as a little girl, it didnít matter how good something tasted to me. If the food texture was wrong, I spit it out because I couldnít stand the way it felt in my mouth. To me, bringing texture to the canvas or whatever media I am working with is important to the overall feel of the work.
Do you see them?
Visual Artist and writer, Cheryl Durgans was raised in the tiny college town of Yellow Springs, Ohio. She received a B.A. degree in Art with a painting concentration from Spellman College in Atlanta, GA. Now based in Philadelphia, Cheryl recently received a Masters Degree in Liberal Arts, with a concentration in Cultural/Visual Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. Her final thesis project was a speculative fiction novel, and analysis based on the concept of Afrofuturism. She has participated in the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, and Philadelphia Black Womenís Art Festival as both artist and writer. This fall, Cheryl Durgans will co-teach a graduate level class at the University of Pennsylvania entitled: James Baldwin (1924-1987), and the Issues of His Time.