Shaunté Gates ‘works across mixed media collage and video subvert landscapes with architecture embedded with cultural symbologies and caste categorizations. The collage works have moved from canvas to wood in response to the needs of the layering of fabrics, canvas, paper, coins, and photographs. Gates’s use of found materials evokes the energy and cultural relevance of their site of origin and the popular culture referenced within these works. Gates refers to these landscapes as “Land of Myth,” and as such denotes, mythologies are layered within the materials. Gates produces dreamscape-like compositions rife with cinematic moments of beauty, chaos and glory depicting the labyrinth of social constructs we are all wading through. The works maybe most succinctly described as psychogeography, an intersection of psychology and geography. It focuses on our psychological experiences of the city and reveals or illuminates forgotten, discarded, or marginalized aspects of the urban environment. Growing up in and around public housing projects during the “war on drugs,” Gates witnessed how mythologies produced social constructs, imagination and the limits therein inform our reality. Friends and family are often the photographed figures transfigured into a half-animal form or other motifs of mythology. They appear concurrently ancient and futuristic, exploring themes of duality, religion, introspection, and escapism.
Shaunté Gates is based in Washington, D.C., where he was born and raised. Gates is trained in oil painting, and prior to his recent works, he produced representational portraits. Gates’ past experience as a tattoo artist and television editor with BET Networks greatly informs his practice. He is a participating artist in Smithsonian Institution’s “Men of Change” four-year (2019-2022) traveling exhibition. The exhibition spans ten museums including California African American Museum, Cincinnati Underground Railroad Museum, and Washington State History Museum. Gates has work in esteemed private collections, and an acquisition by the Studio Museum in Harlem’s Collection. He has many public art commissions from schools throughout D.C., including Transcending, a painting commemorating the 140th anniversary of Howard University School of Law. He presented his first solo exhibition in Europe at Zidoun-Bossuyt Gallery Luxembourg in November 2022. Shaunté Gates is a recipient of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Biennial Grant 2022.
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