Meet artist Andre Ford: remember his name, get to know him and celebrate him now!
He’s been honing his craft for at least seven years, but the last year and a half has been a bumper season for him. “I’ve been drawing for a long time, but I really got to about seven years old,” he said.
Ford “mentions that he is a perfectionist and that he really wanted to deepen his learning of the trade”. “I come for Picasso, just as you would know you know a piece by Picasso or ‘Basquiat’, you will know a ‘Ford.'”
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Ford shared that these artists are two of his biggest influences, describing a memory of “seeing a magazine with Basquiat on the cover, reading his story” and saying “he looks like me, dresses like me… I don’t. didn’t know was an option (being an artist).”
I first discovered his work through a mutual friend, Zay Hutchins, the creator of Sunday Supper at The Collage. Ironically, I remember we had a creative session at Zay’s studio when he was located at the Savannah Mall, where the artists got together and worked on our pieces for the next show, a creative hub.
Ford’s work has always been strong in concept and technical skill level from that time until now.
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His work is “cinematic” in nature and superimposed on technique, materials and culture. It captures snapshots of a moment, shown in blurry strokes mimicking the moment. He reveals “he’s a big movie buff and that in his work he builds a scene”. His work shines a light on black culture by capturing its characters in life scenes much like a film director.
Ford shared a telling perspective: how outside of a gallery he can have an interaction: a white man stares at him, clutching his wallet knowing nothing about Ford but treating him differently and unfairly because he’s a black man; to this same man entering space seeing Ford’s work and “suddenly” wanting to meet the artist, learn about black experience, black humanity and meeting Ford and realizing that he is the same man with whom he interacted outside the gallery.
Unfortunately, this type of interaction is not uncommon, as we have seen throughout history and in the present day.
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Immediately my response as a black woman is to nurture and ask Ford what his feelings are and how he is handling the situation. Ford understood this urge, but also explained that “he’s dealt with these scenarios all his life, so it doesn’t change the way he does business.” He doesn’t allow these experiences to change his character but actually uses them as a tool, knowing he can be underestimated for all he has to offer this world and this creative space.
Ford “meditates on that feeling and those interactions but just thinks about it differently, when it comes to his art, he doesn’t have time to put energy into the negative stuff.” He knows who a smart young black man is, who has a talent and perspective of his own. It is geared towards progress, if you have a gift, pursue it.
“My work focuses on a few things, but a recurring theme is ‘unrequited love, and how his concepts come from his personal life or those around him who then exaggerate them. “His work also pulls from a place of ‘trauma’, taking the L’s (losses) and doing something beautiful, rewriting the event for you as a viewer.
One of his recent works is a striking painting titled “Redbone”.
Ford recounts how in the play he uses the character “Black Charles” in the background while watching his lover being with another man. He uses ”Black Charles” as a tool through his pieces, he pays close attention to detail in his anxious and paranoid gaze, capturing a snippet of what the black man experiences in different situations.
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Ford picks up Picasso: “If you’re really good at something, you should engage in conversation with the greats, whatever your trade or skill. Being in the big galleries, of course, plan B (is) using the internet to have an impact; using tools that artists didn’t have in the past.”
“I want to be a button pusher, have an impact, affect people (and) be a catalyst and present concepts that create dialogue. Eventually I want to mentor young black boys (and say) the world is your oyster, it’s about asking the right questions.
To learn more about André’s work and upcoming shows, follow him on Instagram at @vndre_ford_.