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Artist Wooten Shows "Sword and Shield"

sword and shield
April 06, 2023

Artist Wooten Shows "Sword and Shield"

Artist Donald G. Wooten calls Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop his “sword and shield.” PHOTOS

Born in East Orange, New Jersey, the second of three boys, practically grew up drawing.

“I went from comic books to graffiti. I put down the pencil and picked up the pen when the pictures started to deserve more than 1,000 words,” he said.  “At the same time, I taught myself how to make beats on whatever tech I could find. All of this is present in my current style. I am a traditional illustrator who uses the fundamentals to get the most soul out of software and inject them into whatever it is that I am designing for the people.”

He describes his work as Hip Hop culture (not rap music) crystallized, an intersection of traditional illustration and graffiti, pop culture, technology, and reactions to oppression … “and expression of freedom … even if that freedom is acquired in death,” he said.

“In short, I draw Black people being black regardless of what that costs them—or me—because I am them, as they are me, and we are one.”

Wooten also embellishes apparel with screen printing, sublimation, DFT, and embroidery.

To bring the showing into existence, Professor Tamika D. Williams reached out to all her artists associates to find work with which the students and campus could identify.

“Never let anyone tell you that selecting work for your gallery space is easy, because it is not,” Williams said of the task charged to her by gallery curator Joe Washington. “I worried about whether the work would resonate with the students, if the subject matter is acceptable, is it worth the time and effort.”

She said a curator’s job is like a movie director’s in that one needs to oversee every detail of the production. “There is not a one-size-fits-all approach, but various methods,” Wlliams explained.

While commenting in a Facebook group chat of African American designers, Wiliams met Wooten online.  “He was so passionate about the influences in his work that he wanted every student on HBCU campuses to see it.”

Williams convinced him to “let Alabama A&M be first.”  They spoke about which images were relevant to the present moment and compiled those images into the show that is presented at the gallery.

“I was excited to give this artist an opportunity to show our majors and other majors that you can sell your art and add just touch of color to what you are presenting, and make that presentation touch the masses,” stated Williams.