In Cotton Pickin' Niggra, Kent dons a dandyish outfit—“Sunday's best” clothes for churchgoing—and deconstructs an unrestored Victorian chair, pulling apart the seat to disgorge authentic nineteenth-century cotton. Kent's gloved hands are shown in tight focus as he reconnects in a direct, physical way with the labor of his ancestors. This film is a metaphoric reminder of the pain and suffering endured by enslaved Africans and a bold critique of the Black churchgoers of 2008, who preached banning same-sex marriage rights, from the pulpit. The artwork’s title recalls Jim Crow law days, when ‘Niggra’ was a blend of ‘nigger’ / ‘negro’.
Written, Performed, & Directed by Jeffrey Kent
Baltimore-based artist Jeffrey Kent combines dramatic gestures, vivid colors, multiple layers, impasto, and reverse text in his paintings. His struggle with dyslexia (without access to diagnosis and care) is a recurring theme expressed in reverse text. His bricolage artworks consider the history of inequity by manipulating objects of daily life. In his critique of the accessibility of the Art World, Kent’s street performances, community investment projects, and multimedia public presentations bring fine art to people who wouldn’t otherwise have opportunities to experience it. In addition to his art practices, Kent founded the folded alternative art space in Baltimore, Subbasement Artist Studios (2004-2014); Co-Owner of Unexpected Art Space (2013-2016); Co-Founder of Connect+Collect and Director of Promotion and Outreach, BmoreArt (2018-) designed to create awareness and momentum among art collectors, and to promote a culture of collecting in Baltimore. His artworks are in the collections of Robert W Deutsch Foundation, Hilton Hotels, and FTI Consulting Inc., among others.