After 40 years as a studio artist, Chukes continues to produce work that is detailed, bold, provocative, afrocentric, and spiritual. His work represents an accurate narrative of the Black experience. He brings a very powerful interpretation of that experience in ways that allows us to understand his passion for black empowerment and achievement.
Chukes’s unique vision is connected to a profound expression and representation of the spiritual and metaphysical infrastructure of Blackness. His art and writing is inspired by his desire to not just create art, but to use his art as a medium to engage and raise the consciousness of his audience.
I recently had an opportunity to interview Chukes about his journey, work, and his newly released book, Identity Theft.
Chukes use of the title, “Identity Theft ” represents a collection of works that includes the book, and 70 plus works of art. The entire collection (book and art), speaks to the issue of a “stolen” legacy of black achievement and heritage.
The collection in many ways unpacks and reveals the real history and identity of Black people that has been hidden from the world since the inception of the transatlantic slave trade.
This project was years in the making.
One of Chukes finest works of art in the “Identity Theft” collection is a blank frame called “Portraits of a Nigger”. This profound art work is expressed with a blank picture frame which symbolizes the truth that the “Nigger” does not exist.
Portrait of a Nigger by Chukes
Most Black people in the modern world have no knowledge of their true history/identity. The historical narrative of Black achievement and exceptionalism has been concealed and distorted by the entire global community.
The “Identity Theft” book is an extensive elaboration of this truth. It also sheds light on the confusion and trauma that continues to plague the global Black Community.
The Press Release for the book describes it as follows:
“Identity Theft: Creations From a Social Conscience”
Foreword by David Pagel
“Extraordinary collection of artist’s sculptures and paintings invite you to contemplate the causes and effects of misrepresentation of historical facts and its dire effects on the past and present world through his distinctive point of view.”
Los Angeles, April 2023 —
“Foreword by David Pagel, Professor of Art Theory and History at Claremont Graduate University from the book: The hands-on, labor intensive integrity of his workmanship puts great demands on himself while at the same time inspiring us viewers to be our
best selves—to pay attention to details—to see beyond the obvious, to sense what is invisible, to question what we have been told, and to think for ourselves.”
“Chukes’ creative voice is captured in his new book Identity Theft that represents the majority of pieces he began working on since 2016 with a select few of them being exhibited in galleries around the world.”
“Identity Theft introduces you to a body of work that was initially a protest against the televised brutality and killings of Black people and people of color in America and throughout the world. But the world changed in the past few years, and Chukes’
art evolved with it. His artistic representation is what happens when people or a nation of people are stripped of their indigenous identity and re-taught a history that has historically and maliciously filtered the truth, presenting incorrect versions of past and present injustices. Chukes tells the truth by bringing history to life in his
art and commentary.”
Other significant works of art in the “Identity Theft” collection includes:
Target Practice. Protecting the Future Generation. Africans Only. Subliminal Man and Statute of Limitations.
“Great civilizations are known by what they create and what they destroy. My life is built around my art.” Chukes
Michael Chukes wants to be remembered as an artist whose written and visual work made a significant contribution to the growth, identity and empowerment of black people globally.