Artwork by Rodney “BUCK!” Herring displays the complexities of being Black in the US

By Jermaine Rowley
Center and Sports Copy Editor

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Many of the paintings portray female figures surrounded by written words. Photo by Vijay Sudu.

Whiskey, God, and Women highlights the frustrations of being black in America through various mixed-media portraits.

The art exhibition features works by Rodney “BUCK!” Herring and is curated by Risikat “Kat” Okedeyi. This is the first display in the MilkBoy ArtHouse as part of its partnership with The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center.

Enriched in dark colors, the canvases throughout the second floor of Milkboy Arthouse immediately suck visitors into Herring’s grim themes.

An especially thought-provoking part of these landscapes is their focus on women. Herring portrays the differ experiences both black men and women can go through in America.

One painting features a large image of a nude woman with a bearded man in the background. Their exchange in dialogue, along with their thoughts, is written on the canvas. The woman appears to be caught between two worlds portrayed through the written words: “Fame and obscurity. Pleasure and pain. Praise and blame.”
Khalil Chambers, a visitor at the exhibit, says the portrait is complex, as it seems to represent an oxymoron. “The woman flaunts the hidden parts of her body to gain fame,” Chambers says.

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The paintings represent the complex world of being a Black man or woman in America. Photo by Vijay Sudu.

Herring says his painting titled “Broken 56/x” was his most difficult piece to wrap his head around. The painting describes what has happened to young African and African American youth over time and understanding their cyclical nature of destruction.

“It took almost 5-6 years to complete. There was a lot of pain endured in observing, recording, self- reflecting, and transcribing,” Herring says.
Herring’s organizer, Okedeyi, has known Herring for years and has always been moved by his art.

“He has a way of telling a story that is always relevant to the times we live in,” Okedeyi says. “Once I saw the pieces I was in.”

Okedeyi adds that, since MilkBoy isn’t a traditional museum space, she was able to get more creative with the art placement.

Okedeyi also revealed that the exhibition will be extended until November 26th. Two new pieces will be introduced on September 28, 2017 during the Artist Talk at which visitors can have a conversation with Herring.

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The gallery is displayed throughout the second floor of Milkboy Arthouse. Photo by Vijay Sudu.

The verbal and visual frustrations in Whiskey, God, and Women compare to the frustrations expressed during current racial inequality protests around the world. A unique aspect to these paintings is that they are all shrouded with words in small print. These words are a mixture of frustrations communicated through short phrases and longer passages, verbally adding onto the visual detail of the paintings.

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