Dialogue with Joshua Peters

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Joshua Peters, Father and Son, oil on canvas, 4.5 x 6 feet

Lately, we’ve all been looking at the confederate flag more often than most of us normally would. It took a horrible act of terrorism to finally remove this flag from capital buildings around the South. I recently wrote about a few artists who incorporated the symbol into their work to address the longstanding institution of racism in America. Joshua Peters’ painting Father and Son portrays a poignant narrative about the struggle to explain racism to a younger generation who’s experiencing the century’s old issue for the first time. What is powerful about the work is the poignant allegorical composition. We see the struggle, and crisis in the father’s eyes. He is carrying a huge burden on his back as seen the way that confederate flag’s “bars and stripes” resembles bearing the cross, and his son who represents a new generation born into a world of inequality.  Peters’ dramatically large work largely deals with issues of identity politics focused on race, gender, the subject of fame and people’s stories.

I wanted to specifically know what the inspiration for the piece Father and Son was and Peters explained:
“It really was something that happened naturally without a lot of effort. I was shooting reference at an event and captured this sweet moment. The father carrying his son. But in the Man’s expression, there seemed to be a load on the Father’s shoulders that exceeded his son’s bodyweight. It occurred to me “what’s the conversation like when a Man (a Black Man) has to explain how the world was/is?”

What is it that Peters wants the viewer to take away from his paintings?
“In my work I’m not providing answers. I have opinions and allegories that are specific and lead to finished work. I want my viewer to question and discuss the many facets of race and gender. I try to ask the right question with my work, maybe get a laugh and it’s the trifecta if the audience enjoys how I chop the paint together.”


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