As of January 1, 2016, Gapers Block has ceased publication. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions over the past 12-plus years. 

TODAY

Sunday, December 17

Gapers Block
Search

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr


A/C
« Art All Over the Place The Chicago Code: Windy City Dirt with a Grain of Salt »

Feature Mon Apr 25 2011

Local Artist Blends History and Culture to Create New Generation Art

This article was submitted by freelance writer Iya Bakare.

AF- Wall of Heads.JPG

Is Chicago ready for Hebru Brantley's artwork?

Probably not.

Well, ready or not, he's here and said he wants to go as loud as he can to tell stories through his work in a non-traditional way.

"You have to have a home base to blow up," said Brantley. "I've been blessed and fortunate enough to build a base here and now I'm ready to conquer the rest of the world."

The Chicago native said this city is the best place to establish that home base. Brantley said his recent solo exhibition, Afro-Futurism: Impossible View, served as a major stepping stone in his young career, as the first African-American under the age of 30 (at the time) to be featured at the Zhou B. Art Center in Bridgeport-- not far from his stomping ground of Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood. In this exhibit, his illustrations depict stories surrounded by his creation of a superhero named Flyboy and other goggle-eyed creatures--children specifically--and their emotions from today's socioeconomic times and a group of World War II unsung heroes-- The Tuskegee Airmen.

Strung out.jpg

Brantley said the idea of Flyboy developed after he read one of his father's books about the Tuskegee Airmen, with whom he developed an admiration. He started sketching and drawing images of the authentic and raw emotions of these goggle-eyed kids, which is one of Brantley's identifying styles.

"Imagine being God-like for a moment in time and coming back to racial tension and being seen as less than human," said Brantley, as he discussed historical events.

These sketches were created into mythological comic heroes and fused with Japanese anime to tell stories of the highs and lows of society in the past and today.

Stanford W. Carpenter, Ph.D., an ethnographer and assistant professor of visual and critical studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, said Brantley's work deals with a different art audience and taps into ethnography.

"He [Brantley] is a part of a movement that will continue to grow and challenges the definition of art and comics, which is a good thing," said Carpenter. "The range in art is expanding, and so is the age range that follows art. He's responding to culture and this is significant because artists can play with identity in the art form. Artists like Hebru Brantley are on the vanguard of the integration of art."

Brantley said he wants to give back and leave a legacy in his work, and wants to connect with all audiences.

"Gallery art can be approachable and my work tells a story you can identify with," he adds. "To be able to create and have people pay attention to it...there's no better feeling."

"He's able to play with identity and articulate it in his work in a way that he couldn't do in other forms," said Carpenter.

brantley2.jpg

Brantley, a self-taught visual artist, said he originally studied film in college in Atlanta, but wanted to express himself in a different art form, and taught himself how to paint and illustrate, which he also added feels more natural to him. Brantley said while he was in Atlanta, he transitioned his work on walls as a graffiti artist and media production illustrator to paintings and drawings on a canvas. After college, the young artist spent some time in New York and Los Angeles, before he moved back to Chicago to establish his home base.

Regarding his recent exposure, Brantley seems exited: "Without having an inside track of the art field, I've been metaphorically walking in the dark and now I've been invited to play."

All photos courtesy of Hebru Brantley. Video by @nHarlem.

~*~

This feature is supported in part by a Community News Matters grant from The Chicago Community Trust and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. More information here.

 
GB store
GB store

Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »

Blogroll

ACRE
An Angry White Guy
Antena
AREA Chicago
ArchitectureChicago Plus
Arts Engagement Exchange
The Art Letter
Art or Idiocy?
Art Slant Chicago
Art Talk Chicago
Bad at Sports
Bite and Smile
Brian Dickie of COT
Bridgeport International
Carrie Secrist Gallery
Chainsaw Calligraphy
Chicago Art Blog
Chicago Art Department
Chicago Art Examiner
Chicago Art Journal
Chicago Artists Resource
Chicago Art Map
Chicago Art Review
Chicago Classical Music
Chicago Comedy Examiner
Chicago Cultural Center
Chicago Daily Views
Chicago Film Examiner
Chicago Film Archives
Chicago Gallery News
Chicago Uncommon
Collaboraction
Contemporary Art Space
Co-op Image Group
Co-Prosperity Sphere
Chicago Urban Art Society
Creative Control
Defibrillator
Devening Projects
Digressions
DIY Film
ebersmoore
The Exhibition Agency
The Flatiron Project
F newsmagazine
The Gallery Crawl...
Galerie F
The Gaudy God
Happy Dog Gallery
HollywoodChicago
Homeroom Chicago
I, Homunculus
Hyde Park Artcenter Blog
InCUBATE
Joyce Owens: Artist on Art
J-Pointe
Julius Caesar
Kasia Kay Gallery
Kavi Gupta Gallery
Rob Kozlowski
Lookingglass Theatre Blog
Lumpen Blog
Marquee
Mess Hall
N'DIGO
Neoteric Art
NewcityArt
NewcityFilm
NewcityStage
Not If But When
Noun and Verb
On Film
On the Make
Onstage
Peanut Gallery
Peregrine Program
Performink
The Poor Choices Show
Pop Up Art Loop
The Post Family
The Recycled Film
Reversible Eye
Rhona Hoffman Gallery
Roots & Culture Gallery
SAIC Blog
The Seen
Sharkforum
Sisterman Vintage
Site of Big Shoulders
Sixty Inches From Center
Soleil's To-Do's
Sometimes Store
Steppenwolf.blog
Stop Go Stop
Storefront Rebellion
TOC Blog
Theater for the Future
Theatre in Chicago
The Franklin
The Mission
The Theater Loop
Thomas Robertello Gallery
threewalls
Time Tells Tony Wight Gallery
Uncommon Photographers
The Unscene Chicago
The Visualist
Vocalo
Western Exhibitions
What's Going On?
What to Wear During an Orange Alert?
You, Me, Them, Everybody
Zg Gallery

GB store

 

Events


A/C on Flickr

Join the A/C Flickr Pool.



About A/C

A/C is the arts and culture section of Gapers Block, covering the many forms of expression on display in Chicago. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Nancy Bishop, nancy@gapersblock.com
A/C staff inbox: ac@gapersblock.com

Archives

 

A/C Flickr Pool
 Subscribe in a reader.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15