Image: West African Kente cloth
Stan Squirewell graduated from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and the Hoffberger School of Painting. He is a painter, photographer, installation, and performance artist, creating multi-layered works that tackle complexly interwoven themes; race, memory, and mythology; indigenous pattern, sacred geometry, and science. He draws his inspiration from theoretical writings, science fiction films and novels, avant-garde jazz, and indigenous storytelling.
Squirewell says, "I am examining the relativity of global indigenous geometric patterns, specifically West African Kente schema, as a possible progenitor of modern digital cultures. I see overwhelming similarities in basic constructions and designs of computer processing chips and video games to the geometrical weave of the cloth. The vividly bold colors, precise hard lines, sequential rhythms, and movements attest to the high intellectual capacity of those who were called 'primitive.'"
Image: Algorithmic. 2012. Algorithmic Carbon Series. Smithsonian Collection. Courtesy of Stan Squirewell.
Of his Algorithmic Carbon Series, he notes: "Growing up in the age of MS-DOS coding, I found myself deeply fascinated with computer language and how symbols morphed into actions, actions into colored shapes, shapes turned into recognizable objects and within the codex I could build a limitless synthetic universe." His Anomoloy Plate Series is, he suggests, "in direct lineage (but not limited) to the geometric patterns of West African indigenous peoples such as the Akan and the Ndebele...”
Squirewell is currently developing a series of collage works that examine the intersection of race, history and memory. In his quest to learn about his own past, he began an active investigation into the idea that all histories—and especially those of Black people—are constructed, rather than fixed. In his collage works, he appropriates images of colonial art and subverts them with images of the African diaspora, creating a blend of contemporary and historic clothing.
Image: Tina and Chelsea. 2021. Mixed Media Collage with Carved Shoutouts Sugi Ban Frame. Courtesy of Stan Squirewell.
Squirewell often burns the frames of his collages, sometimes burning the edges of the collages themselves. When making the collages, Squirewell says, "War and conquest were the things that I thought about the most. History idolizes non people of color, and the histories that I grew up with were not the stories that my ancestors have. And most of what my ancestors have given to me has come from...the burning and sacrifice of it all. The lives that were lost; the beautiful history of the negro in America. So, for me it’s a reclamation. My work is challenging that history, whilst acknowledging it at the same time. And so, the burning is symbolic..."
Image: Lousianna. 2019.Mixed media collage and carved scorched frame. Courtesy of Stan Squirewell.
Stan Squirewell is represented by the Kavi Gupta Gallery.