Meet the Artist: Roger Allan Cleaves

Meet Memphis 2020 artist Roger Allan Cleaves. Cleaves received his Bachelor of Arts degree in painting from the University of Memphis in 2007 and his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2011. Disinterested in the familiar visual frame work for discussing social constructs such as race, Cleaves instead invents fantastical worlds populated with icons, coded symbols, and a unique language he calls “Afroglyphs” to create new narratives. While playful upon first impression, his counternarratives explore complicated subject matter relating to the experiences of people of color and are serious in theme and tone.

In tandem with his work in paint and sculpture, Cleaves authors fictional literature to enhance thestories he tells. Somewhere between cartoon and abstraction, We So Fly is inspired by a chapter from his written work titled The Land of the Forget Me Nots. The painting depicts three anthropomorphic plant-like characters, a Forget Me Not flanked by two Fly Guys, that the protagonist Brooklyn encounters and looks to for guidance as he searches for his younger sister who has been abducted and taken to this strange land.

Roger Cleaves, We So Fly, 2018; Oil on canvas; Courtesy of the artist

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Posted by Kristen Rambo at 12:06 PM
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