Maxwell Emcays is the other talented artist at Gallery Guichard’s featured exhibition titled “Found,” a Chicago-based multidisciplinary creative who began his journey creating digitally born work, using a T-shirt as his only canvas. The T-shirt represents an allegory that references the social structure that his work seeks to navigate. His multilayered work strives to create dialog around these institutionalized barriers while presenting a more overt conscious meaning. Stylistically, he references abstract expressionism, pop art and Afrocentrism. His work has been seen in Miami Art Basel, Chicago galleries, the DuSable Museum, private collections and highlighted on NBC’s “Making a Difference.”
Tell us about me about the exhibit at Gallery Guichard.
FOUND will be the stage for me to premiere my work. The body of work that I will be presenting reflects years of perfecting my craft and style. I seek to present work that is unique and layered with meaning.
How did you get started using T-shirts as a canvas for expression? Why the T-shirt?
The T-shirt was the only canvas afforded to me given my social, economic and cultural frame of reference. I was challenged with the goal of compacting my hopes and dreams onto a T-Shirt; much like the scraps given to slaves to make gourmet dinners (soul food). When one explores the dynamic of what a T-Shirt is, in relation to the art and even fashion institution, one begins to understand that the T-Shirt is a metaphor. Not many T-Shirts are featured in the MoMA. Not many people that look like me either. This notion is a major theme in my work.
Tell us about your creative journey? When did you know you wanted to be a visual artist?
It has been painful. [When I was] 7 years old.
How would you describe your artistic style and what mediums do you use?
My artistic style uses references to Afro, abstract and pop art to create critiques of the institutional frame work that the piece exists within.
What would you like audiences to see when they view your work?
I would like for audiences to feel my passion.
Your graphics for “Lost Children” — a silhouette of a child with a gun in one hand and a teddy bear in the other — that was a part of The Minority Report in Englewood awhile back is very telling given our present climate. Talk about that.
The Lost Childhoods was a piece intended for a T-shirt. The Lost Childhoods is a project that seeks to navigate through institutional barriers. Much like the frame works within art that delineate the context/value of a T-shirt. As a piece with gun and teddy bear, The Lost Childhoods is a self-portrait of me at 7 years old. The piece places me within the subject matter as a possible victim of violence.
Found runs June 15 through July 7, 2016, at Gallery Guichard, 437 E. 47th St, Chicago 60653. For more information, visit www.GalleryGuichard.com