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Lavar Munroe | The Bahamas

Born in 1982 in Nassau, The Bahamas,
Lives and works in Saint Louis, USA,
Painting, sculpture

My artistic goal is to create a personal mythology that explores, addresses and re-narrates stereotypes faced by many poorer class black people of the ghetto. Working through anthropologic lenses, my work articulates structures of the black ghetto, which through mythology celebrates such underprivileged and marginalized beings. Through the examination of social structures of the ghetto, my work represents such people through metaphors of heroes, kings, queens, gods and goddesses. I am most excited in combining negative stereotypes and misconceptions, using them as inspiration in creating my mythology. My work strives to uplift the status of the disadvantaged Black, through man-animal hybrids. I also create artifacts and constructed settings that serve as complements to my narratives.

In most myths there is a Trickster, whose role is to contradict, re-articulate and reverse systems of society. In many ways, I borrow from the behavioral traits of the Trickster when creating my work. My work challenges societal structures of hierarchy and racial disparities. My work also confronts material and its systems of value. I sweep streets and thrift stores for material that has retained a residue and in many ways, conjured spirits of a people.

Both the streets and the thrift store are somewhat saviors for the impoverished, therefore, I honor the materials claimed from these places, creating works that are adored by normal class society who would otherwise overlook and disregard such material. Through spectatorship, my audience shares a common dialog, respect and pay homage to those disregarded within society.

Having lived a life in the ghetto for over twenty years, I have retained knowledge and learned a language that validates and supports my research. For many, ghetto is defined as a place where the norm is a life of criminality and the exclusion of the “world” outside of its boundaries. Opposed to preconceived notions, my definition of ghetto is an impoverished, neglected, and disadvantaged area of a city, that experience suffering both mentally and physically, often as a result of social or economic restrictions, pressures, and hardships.

My investigation examines the thoughts and philosophies that address the idea of Blacks, particularly men, facing potential extinction due to lives of criminality, violence, disease, drug use and promiscuity. In such regards, personal myth is the source by which I choose to examine and attempt to further understand concepts of structural, economic, and racial hierarchies as dictated by society.

Lavar Munroe, 2013

Holder of a MFA from the Washington University of Saint Louis, USA (2012) and of a BFA in Illustration from the Savannah College of Art and Design of Savannah, USA (2007).

He was artist in residence at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in Florida, USA (2012) ; and will be in residency in the Can Serrat Centro de Actividades Artisticas of El Bruch, Spain (2013).

In 2012, Lavar Munroe got a scholarship from the Joan Mitchell Foundation, whereas in 2011 he got a scholarship from the Mildred Suliburk Dennis Memorial and a grant from the National Endowment for Arts.

In 2009 and 2005, he won the Central Bank of The Bahamas Award for its annual competition and was also recipient of the Fine Art Merit Winner by Creative Quaterly 16 in 2009. In 2011, he wins the Kraus Family Foundation Award.

His last individual shows include : Strenght & Struggle : Haiti Continued at the Dadian Gallery in Washington DC, USA (2011) ; INVASION at the Popopstudios of Nassau, The Bahamas (2011) ; Yes We Can at the King-Tisdell Cottage Foundation of Savannah, USA (2010) ; LIFE after LIFE at the Central Bank of The Bahamas, Nassau (2010).

Regarding his participation to collective exhibitions, his work was showcased in : In the Heart of the Heart of the Country at the Alternative Space of Saint Louis, USA (2012) ; About Change at the  HQ of the World Bank in Washington DC, USA (2011) ; Forever Forged, Forever Becoming at the Bargehouse in London, UK (2011) in the framework of Choices – the 2011 edition of the AACDD (African & African-Caribbean Design Diaspora) Festival ; A Sudden and Violent Change at the gallery The Hub in Nassau, The Bahamas (2010) ; FRIENDS at Care First Animal Hospital in Raleigh, USA (2009), Generation 111 at the Post House Gallery of Nassau, The Bahamas (2009) ; Hidden Treasures at the D’Aguilar Collection in Nassau, The Bahamas (2008) and The Big Screen Art Scene at the Popopstudios in Nassau, The Bahamas (2008).

Lavar Munroe was invited to the Biennial of Liverpool in 2010 to represent The Bahamas in the pavilion City States, and participated in the 4th and 5th National Exhibition of the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas in Nassau, in 2010 and 2008.

Lavar Munroe’s artworks are contained in the collections of the following institutions :

Contemporary Art Center of VirginiaCentral Bank of The Bahamas and the NAGB (National Art Gallery of The Bahamas).

Exclusive Interview with Lavar Munroe

Lavar Munroe answered to Uprising Art’s questions. He develops how he creates hybrids figures, including religious icons or power oriented iconography; that constitute a personal mythology representing poorer class black people of the ghetto.

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