This month’s LA Art artist spotlight is on Mark Steven Greenfield.
Charismatic and true to himself, Mark Steven Greenfield is a native Angeleno, although he spent his formative years in Taiwan and Germany. In interviews he’s shared that his gravitation towards art wasn’t necessarily intrinsic (though certainly his talent is).
He has described how an art teacher recognized potential in him, and encouraged him to spurn the more nefarious influences in his life, influences which many do not have the ability/discipline to compartmentalize and depart from.
So in tune with the pulse of modern-American stereotypes and racial tension, Greenfield’s works from 20 years ago have modern interviewers and curators asking if he’s going to expand on his Blackatcha series. Greenfield merely replies that he is happy the dialogue is continuing today, and believes that other artists are moving the dialogue forward in ways that he is excited about.
Black Madonna is a series of artworks aimed at examining symbolism of universal love (mother and child) in juxtaposition to white supremacist roots. The depiction of black Madonna is existent in Catholicism in Western Europe, though rarely spoken of; Greenfield exhumes these depictions in unique, gold-leaf portraits modeled in the 15th century triptych style.
Doo-Dahz is a series of artworks in which Greenfield interrogates pre-Confederate South depictions of African Americans; we see a series of unique, almost mandela-like, meditative patterns in much of his Doo-Dahz series. These patterns almost convince you that they are script in English or another language. Greenfield describes these as meditative in nature, and time-consuming to bring to life. While they appear in other series, the Doo-Dahz series makes no apology of these Doo-Dahz mimicking cotton in endless fields.
Animalicious is a series of Greenfield’s works which confront stereotypes created and reinforced by the entertainment industry. These stereotypes are often harmful and in their self-perpetuation, duplicated and harnessed in misconstrued ways which take the stereotype and front it as truthful trope. These stereotypes have been incredibly damaging (to say the least) and the entertainment industry still has work to do to get out from underneath its harmful shadow.
Greenfield has been instrumental in shaping the Los Angeles art scene since the late 80s as an administrator for the LA Department of Cultural Affairs, director of the Watts Towers Arts Center and Towers of Simon Rodia, director of the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, and board member for the Downtown Arts Development Association, the Korean Museum, and the Armory Center of the Arts (the list goes on-and-on). His infectious spirit and discerning mind gives us a foundation and springboard to continue socio-cultural dialogue surrounding intractable and important issues in L.A. and beyond.
Mark Steven Greenfield
Mark Steven Greenfield: A Survey
MOAH Museum of Art and History
665 W. Lancaster Blvd.
Lancaster, CA 93534
Tuesday – Sunday 11am – 6pm