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Darius Steward

watercolor on Yupo
14" x 22"  

(b. 1984 – Cleveland, OH ) Using portraits of his son and daughter, Darius Steward references his past childhood through the depiction of his children’s present. Set against a starkly white backdrop, the vignettes of a child’s day are intimate, void of the distractions inherent to childhood. Without these disruptions, the objects that accompany the child (carried or dragged baggage, a single sedentary swing, a flashlight) are highlighted and their intent as representations of childhood are enhanced.

This diptych comes from the artist’s newest body of work where the protagonists are conspicuously carrying what appear to be white squares or spaces of “whiteness.” The artist is working to understand and depict the realities experienced by people of color situated within dominant white culture. In WHO, WHAT, the questioning faces of the figures highlight the necessary daily decisions to embrace, accept, or wholly reject the prevailing social structure into which one is born. 

Darius Steward received an MFA from the University of Delaware and a BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art. His work has been exhibited extensively at such institutions as the William Busta Gallery, Cleveland, OH, Zygote Press, Cleveland, OH, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland. He was a 2016 recipient of the Creative Workforce Fellowship awarded by the Community Partnership for Arts & Culture. Steward is currently working as an educator at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

From the  nominating artist:

What I admire most about Darius’s work are the layers of subtext that exist under his expert craft. The imagery of innocent youth, of color on the resistant white background that consumes and bleeds into the figures, forces contemplation of variant issues that exist in contemporary society.
— Mike Meier

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