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Michael Ray Charles Visiting Artist at Marais Press

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A world-renowned contemporary artist is coming to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Michael Ray Charles, recipient of the prestigious Rome Prize, will spend three days on campus. Charles and students in the Department of Visual Arts will collaborate on a limited-edition print. He’ll also present a public lecture that discusses how his art confronts power dynamics, cultural hierarchies and stereotypes.

Charles will work alongside Visual Arts students at Marais Press, UL Lafayette’s printmaking studio, from Wednesday, Oct. 30, through Thursday, Nov. 1., from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Marais Press is located in Fletcher Hall, room 301.

The hour-long lecture will begin at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 30 in Fletcher Hall, room 134. Both the printmaking studio and the lecture are open to the public.

Charles is a Lafayette native and a graduate of McNeese State University. He later earned a master of fine arts degree from the University of Houston, where he’s now a professor of painting.

The American Academy in Rome, the oldest American overseas center for research in the arts and humanities, presented Charles its 2018-2019 Rome Prize in Visual Arts. It’s one of the most significant awards a working artist can receive.

Charles was among the first artists profiled in the 2001 premiere of “Art 21,” a PBS series. The previous year, he was a consultant on the Spike Lee film “Bamboozled.”

National and international exhibitions have featured Charles’ work. His graphically styled paintings explore racial stereotypes in American advertising and product packaging, on billboards, and in radio jingles and television commercials.

The Department of Visual Arts’ Marais Press is the only professional printmaking facility on a Louisiana university campus. It has played host to more than 200 artists since 1999, said Brian Kelly. He is a visual arts professor and the printmaking studio’s coordinator.

Since the 1990s, the artwork of artist Michael Ray Charles, has scathing- ly addressed issues of identity that concern postmodern art and society.

Charles’s paintings ridicule ideas about the “romance” of the Old South and black subservience. By situating viewers in an historical continuum, Charles is able to emphasize the extreme nature of racist stereotypes, producing a sense of dissonance as viewers find themselves both repulsed and intruiged by the artwork.

His work has been exhibited throughout the U.S. and Europe, including in exhibitions at Cotthem Gallery, Brussels, Belgium; Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD; Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York, NY; Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati, OH; Albright Knox Gallery, Buffalo, NY; and Galerie Hans Mayer, Dusseldorf, Germany.

He has served as a panelist and or juror for The National Endowment for the Arts, The Bush Artist Fellowship, St. Paul, MN, and other creative cultural entities. He is among the forst group of artists featured in the award winning PBS series Art 21: Art in the 21st Century, along with Matthew Barney, Mel Chin and Andrea Zittel. The series titled “ART 21” that highlighted artists of the 21st century and acknowledged as one of the top young African-American scholars in academia by Black Issues In Higher Education.

Today, his work is well documented in art history books, amongst far-ranging scholarly discipline in journals, magazines, newspapers, and documentaries. Segments on PBS, Canadian, and German television; and collaborations with distinguished director, Spike Lee have highlighted Charles’ work and ideas.

In addition to numerous distinguished public and private collections Charles, the Cullen Distinguished Professor of Painting at the University of Houston, School of Art and the recipient of the American Academy Rome Prize has a current exhibition of new work at the The Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum, Austin Tx and a soon to be released book about his work through the University of Texas Press.

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