Steve Prince is known for depicting many themes in his work; Christianity and the lives of Black Americans are two big ones.
As many of Prince’s pieces are more symbolic, this one, “Urban Nativity” is a more blunt take on these topics. Take note that Prince’s usual characteristics are still present-the block shaped pants and shoes suggest that the horsemen of the apocalypse are standing over the dead body. Symbolically, the horsemen may represent the men who’ve killed the victim. They may also represent passerby’s, who are unfeeling to the tragedy in front of them, as bystanders, they are are also responsible for this boy’s death. The dead body is only covered by a cloth, which forms Prince’s trademark dove. This dove suggest that the boy who died was innocent and peaceful, his death was a great tragedy and wrongdoing. The dove is also lying on the ground, meant to mean that peace is dead too. Lastly, a price tag hangs from the victim’s foot. This can be taken to mean many things, but I think the simple message it is supposed to bring to those viewing Urban Nativity is that a price was put on this person’s life and that the world didn’t slow down to mourn, it was desensitized to his death.
It’s honestly wild how little I knew about really any African culture or history. Lookin at you, US education system.
This semester, I’m taking a class, The Art of Steve Prince. Steve Prince is an artist, or in his words, an art evangelist. His passion lies in community art projects, and most recently, he assigned one of those projects to the students of Geneseo. Ironically, I got super sick right before, and missed that entire project. I have however, gotten to see the end result. The project is called Urban Garden, and it featured three walls turned into a mural. One side, representing the worst in humanity, the struggles of the oppressed. The mural on the opposing wall represents the best of humanity, the passion for strength and justice. The mural was beautiful, one of the nicest things was to see friends looking at each other’s work and saying, “Oh you must’ve done this, I love it!”
While I missed Steve Prince’s lecture and art project, I was able to read the article, “The Kongo Cosmogram” and the Flash of the Spirit Jism. Never have I learned so much about African culture, specifically the Kongo. These articles/chapters went into how the people from the Kongo influenced culture in the Americas. In the US, Kongo culture influenced current slang in the English language, such as words like ‘funk’, and ‘jizz’ and ‘goofer’. Interestingly, goofer is connected to conjure-work, “Goofer Dust” refers to the Ki-Kongo verb, “kufwa”, the dirt from a grave, and is used in charm. Earth from a grave is regarded as one with the spirit of the buried. The information in these passages was interesting to learn about, but by far, the most inspiring thing about them was the resilience of the people of the Kongo. They refused to let their culture die, and now it has influenced modern life for people all around the world.