Titus Kaphar, an Artist Who Explores Race, History and Mass Incarceration, Named a 2018 MacArthur “Genius”
Titus Kaphar’s arresting sculptures, paintings and installations converge on art, history and civic agency, highlighting the lack of representation of people of color in the Western art canon. “I’m asking the viewer to try to piece that whole story together without leaving behind the valuable narrative of, in many cases, those people who’ve been silenced over the years.” This year his work has been recognized with a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, a distinction awarded to those forging truly significant progress towards building a more just and peaceful world.
“I feel really strongly that if I can do anything to help other young folks who come from the kind of communities that I come from, discover their passion, discover the thing that motivates them, I will be a happy man.”— Titus Kaphar
On why they chose Kaphar for their prestigious award, the MacArthur Foundation writes: “Kaphar’s commitment to social engagement has led him to move beyond traditional modes of artistic expression to establish NXTHVN, an art space based in New Haven, Connecticut (Winter 2019). It will provide studio spaces and residencies for artists and curators, and help cultivate an artistic community in a city plagued by deep and long-standing socioeconomic divides. NXTHVN turns the difficult lessons and insights gleaned from historical reflection into tangible, forward-looking action. Through a growing body of work that yokes grim yet naturalized historical realities to contemporary crises of social justice, Kaphar is marshalling the combined powers of art and history to effect social change.”