Last week we introduced two featured artists in the forthcoming Strivers Gardens Gallery and Souleo Enterprises, LLC exhibition, “eMegre: Danny Simmons & Artists on the Cusp.” In week two of our artists’ diary entries, we focus on JaSon E. Auguste, Laura Gadson and David Hollier.

Auguste is a self-taught artist and he incorporates technological resources in the digital age with a tribute to Jean-Michel Basquiat in JMB Code (2011). The interactive piece integrates QR (quick response) codes throughout the work and, with a mobile scanning device, transports viewers into the digital world to explore the history and impact of Basquiat.

Hollier hails from Wolverhampton, England and currently resides in Bushwick, Brooklyn. A self-professed documentarian of current affairs, his work is defined by a strong graphical aesthetic in various mediums including watercolor, spray paint, oil and acrylic.

Gadson is a Harlem based artist and curator. Known for her work in the art of quilting and for coordinating events for fellow artists she makes a Harlem brownstone her studio and private gallery. Finally as a sculptor, Gallegos studies ancient cultures and recreates their most sacred objects using mass consumed goods.

The opening reception of the exhibition is Thursday July 12 at 6:00pm at Strivers Gardens Gallery located at 300 West 135th St, New York, NY. Before then, get to know the journey of each artist in his or her own words.

JaSon E. Auguste: 

One of my main struggles is myself; overcoming obstacles that I put in front of myself and the confidence in showing my work to other people. In the beginning I would do my work for my friends and myself but I didn’t feel comfortable enough showing it. It was a building process for me. I had to get out of my own way and let people accept the work for what it is whether they like it or don’t like it, it touches their soul and spirit or cleanses their D.N.A. It’s about putting myself out there and being secure in myself and who I am as an individual. The Most High made us perfect in our own creation and we take away from our own perfection. I am still working on that and have more work to do but life is a work in progress.

Something that also pushes me is love and loss. One tumultuous relationship pushed me to some real like depths within my soul. The loss of the soul of my son is a great factor in me pushing forward with my art for my sake and his soul’s sake. 

I want people to know there was someone here in this time who remembered creation. Right now we are in turmoil and we have to find silence and stillness within ourselves so the planet can heal. Hopefully my work will continue that healing process.

Laura Gadson

As women, we often find ourselves in many life roles; I currently wear the hats of partner, caregiver to a parent, surrogate parent to a niece, homeowner, pet owner and the list keeps growing. To give adequate time to all of these roles and be a serious artist is a balancing act that few even dare. It continues to be a challenge for me but I am persevering to maintain my focus on who I am creatively.

Another challenge is that of craft artist vs. fine artist. My work comes out of the various fiber crafts and I make both utilitarian and wall art. Many would like to diminish what I do because of the medium of my artistic voice. I do not relegate myself to only the quilt world or the craft world. I hope that others feel my work is just as worthy as any painting or sculpture. My techniques are constantly evolving and some might feel that my work lacks a strong artistic voice. Well that will just have to be too bad. I must go where my creative heart leads me otherwise I might as well go drive a bus. When someone reads this 100 years from now know that when I wanted to say something relevant or insightful I made those stitches holler.

David Hollier

I guess my most challenging issue, as an artist, is the marketing side of things. How one brands oneself has become such an important part of ‘being an artist.’ Also, the art world wants to categorize its artists. This is such a bizarre notion to me; a world that supposedly embraces innovation through creative process wants to put you in a box, give you a label. However, I don’t think they’ve created a category for artists like me yet. In one way it’s exhilarating, it’s what makes us ‘emerging’. And it’s why exhibitions like this one at Strivers Gardens Gallery are so important. Of course, it makes perfect sense that the show is in Harlem, this neighborhood is constantly emerging.

The painting I have in the show is also very related to branding. In fact it has hundreds of corporate logos collaged together to look like the sky. In one way it pays homage to all the great brand names of our world, each one representing a great success story in terms of business and enterprise. But on the other hand it’s also a warning. Technology and information have become so accessible they are an irreplaceable part of our daily existence. As they become more important, advertising has crept in, infiltrating everything we see. It’s such a fantastical concept, but it’s also invasive and it’s being done without our knowledge – meaning we have very little control over it. It all becomes very scary when you start to think of it like this. So, I feel as an emerging artist, it’s very important to highlight these concerns. I think there are a lot of like-minded people out there too, with a similar message. Maybe this will be how the art world categorizes us; we are like ‘new apostles’, messengers of this new religion (or world order). We want to use technology for the good of humanity, whilst holding on to some form of tradition, and also warning of the pitfalls that come with this terrific assault on natural balance. Or maybe we are just trying to make pretty pictures that people want to put on their walls. Either way, it’s an awesome time to be involved in the arts, to be emerging.

Souleo Enterprises, LLC is the umbrella company that creates, produces and curates media content, events, exhibitions and philanthropic projects by founder, Souleo. Presently Souleo Enterprises, LLC is creator/producer of the adult LGBT, financial literacy and arts programming for the New York Public Library taking place summer 2012 seen here.