The paintings contain muted references to gang signs and violence: the ubiquitous “X” that, when painted over a rival’s tag, construes a threat—and also recalls the cipher of illiterate slaves. Tints and shades of blue, red and black indicate gang affiliations and the cultural community they occupy. Spray-painted marks conjure up figures or gunshots.
The “X” is also an algebraic symbol that is used as a stand-in for an unknown value or quantity in an equation; hence, the exhibition title. Of Unknown Value is not only a pun based on a visual motif in the work, but is also a lament for lives consumed by violence. It positions the “what ifs” of a person’s potential against the backdrop of street crime and community violence. What if _____ was not in a gang? What if ¬¬_____ felt connected to their humanity instead of having it challenged daily on both a personal and global scale? What if prosperity replaced poverty; and good will, erasure? The paintings connect me to a world of pain; and, although not presuming to offer solutions, they at least challenge a very disturbing status quo.