Tuesday, June 23, 2020

小提琴制作者贝内迪克特-弗里德曼(Benedicte Friedmann)在传统的基础上进行调整。 在意大利的克雷莫纳 -- Meet violin maker Benedicte Friedmann who tunes in to tradition in Italy’s Cremona

小提琴制作者贝内迪克特-弗里德曼(Benedicte Friedmann)在传统的基础上进行调整。
在意大利的克雷莫纳


Benedicte Friedmann

Benedicte Friedmann 

45岁的法国小提琴家贝内迪克特-弗里德曼一直生活在法国。

在 "小提琴制造的摇篮 "里呆了大约20年。"来到克雷莫纳是--。

也许这样说有点自命不凡--就像走在最伟大的脚步上。

斯特拉迪瓦里、瓜奈里、阿玛蒂,"她说,"她指的是这座城市最令人尊敬的。

几个世纪以来的工匠。

"在这里做一名琴师,意味着可以百分之百地投入到乐器的创作中去,做得越多,你就会变得越好。"弗里德曼说。

弗里德曼说,在法国,为了赚取小提琴制作者的生活费,很多人都会做维修、重新梳理琴弓或销售配件,这让他们几乎没有时间从事艺术创作。

然而,对于克雷莫纳的小提琴制造商来说,情况并不总是简单的,他们在20世纪60-80年代享受增长,然后情况变得更加艰难。

"我们的市场,这是一个精英市场,已经萎缩了。我们正面临着一个非常严重的问题"。

工匠联合会主席乔治-格里萨莱斯说。

越来越少的演出和音乐场所,以及经验丰富的小提琴家更喜欢18和19世纪的古董乐器,都伤害了这个小众行业。甚至在COVID-19席卷意大利北部之前,格里萨莱斯就表示,"由于来自中国和东欧的无情竞争,这个行业陷入了困境。"

根据国际贸易中心的数据,中国是世界上最主要的弓形乐器生产国,去年出口额为7780万美元,即150万件乐器,超过世界市场的一半。

意大利排在第五位,出口额占世界出口额的4.6%,仅次于英国和德国,但高于法国。意大利的主要客户是日本和美国。

意大利的小提琴制造商必须与市场上的假琴竞争,有些假琴是在其他地方制造的,并标榜为克雷蒙尼琴,但最重要的是竞争来自于价格较低的小提琴。格里萨莱斯说,大师级的乐器起价为25000欧元(27943美元),尽管其他质量上乘的乐器售价可以低1万欧元左右。

不过,只要花200欧元或更少的钱,就可以买到一把中国小提琴、琴弓和琴盒。

巴洛克小提琴家法布里奇奥-隆戈说:"它们是经济型乐器,是系列化生产的,目的是为了那些初学的人"。

法国小提琴制作家弗里德曼说,小提琴的制作过程

n中国的大多数情况下,她和她的手艺有很大的不同。

克雷莫纳的其他人都在从事。

"它们是手工制作的,但10个小提琴制造商每天都在同一个零件上工作。这是一个生产线的工作,最后你得到一个组装,"弗里曼说。"没有独特性,没有真实性。"

在克雷莫纳,格里萨莱斯说,制作一把小提琴至少需要300个小时,也就是两到三个月的时间。

琴师们面临的另一个挑战是如何在克雷莫纳的竞争中脱颖而出。

弗里德曼说:"打响知名度有点费劲",而寻找订单 "是一个永久的追求"。

一些小提琴制造商通过在黑市上工作和避免高额税收,能够提供更低的价格--伤害了琴师同行。

尽管有这些挑战,弗里德曼说,集中在克雷莫纳的小提琴制造商创造了一个健康的环境,模仿和追求卓越的愿望。

"当有人问我哪把琴是我做过的最漂亮的琴时。

对我来说,它总是下一个,"Friedmann 说。



ENGLISH

https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/biz/archives/2020/06/21/2003738562


Violin maker Benedicte Friedmann tunes in to tradition 

in Italy’s Cremona


Benedicte Friedmann, a 45-year-old violinkaker from France, has been living 
in “the cradle of violin-making” for about 20 years. “Coming to Cremona was — 
and maybe it’s a bit pretentious to say this — like walking in the footsteps of the greatest, 
Stradivarius, Guarneri, Amati,” she said, referring to the city’s most revered 
craftsmen of centuries past.
“Being a luthier here means being able to devote yourself 100 percent to creating instruments, and the more you do, the better you become,” Friedmann said.
In France, to earn a living as a violinmaker, many people do repairs, re-hair bows or sell accessories, which leaves them little time for their art, Friedmann  said.
However, the situation is not always simple for the violinmakers of Cremona, who enjoyed growth in the 1960s-1980s, before things got tougher.
“Our market, which is an elite market, has shrunk. We are facing a very serious problem,” 
said Giorgio Grisales, president of the artisans’ consortium.
Fewer performances and musical venues and the preference of seasoned violinists for antique instruments from the 18th and 19th centuries have hurt the niche industry. Even before COVID-19 swept through northern Italy, Grisales said that “the sector was in trouble because of ruthless competition from China and Eastern Europe.”
China is the world’s leading producer of bowed instruments with US$77.8 million in exports last year, or 1.5 million instruments, more than half of the world market, according to the International Trade Centre.
Italy is in fifth position, with 4.6 percent of world exports, behind the UK and Germany, but ahead of France. Italy’s main customers are Japan and the US.
Italian violinmakers must contend with counterfeit instruments in the marketplace, some built elsewhere and advertised as Cremonese, but above all competition comes from lower priced violins. Master instruments start at 25,000 euros (US$27,943), although others of fine quality can sell for about 10,000 euros less, Grisales said.
However, for 200 euros or less, it is possible to buy a Chinese violin, bow and case.
“They are economic instruments, made in series, and intended for those who are beginning to study,” baroque violinist Fabrizio Longo said.
Friedmann, the French violinmaker, said that the process of making a violin 
n China is for the most part vastly different from the craftsmanship she and 
others in Cremona engage in.
“They are handmade, but 10 violinmakers work every day on the same parts. It’s a line job and at the end you get an assembly,” Friemann said. “There’s no uniqueness, no authenticity.”
In Cremona, Grisales said that it takes at least 300 hours to make a violin, or between two to three months.
Another challenge for the luthiers is to stand out among the Cremonese competition.
“Getting known is a bit laborious,” while the search for orders “is a permanent quest,” Friedmann said.
Some violinmakers have been able to offer lower prices — hurting fellow luthiers — by working on the black market and avoiding high taxes.
Despite these challenges, Friedmann said that the concentration of violinmakers in Cremona creates a healthy environment of emulation and the desire to excel.
“When I’m asked which is the most beautiful instrument I’ve made, 
for me it’s always the next one,” Friedmann  said.


With 160 studios in the city of 70,000 people, most of Cremona’s luthiers are foreigners, many of whom stayed on after studying at the International Violin Making School, which opened in 1938

  • AFP, CREMONA, Italy
Working in the shadow of the great masters, the violinmakers of Italy’s Cremona are valiantly fighting a shrinking market and foreign competition as they seek perfection, one violin at a time.
The birthplace of Stradivarius, Cremona is a veritable laboratory for luthiers from all over the world, where violin workshops seem to be everywhere you look.
Stefano Conia’s studio — just one of the 160 in the northern Italian city of 70,000 inhabitants — has not changed for decades.

Stefano Conia, left, and his son, also named Stefano, inspect violins at their workshop in Cremona on June 9.

Photo: AFP
It is situated at the back of a flower-filled courtyard, and this native Hungarian, one of the doyens of Cremonese violinmakers, heads there every day, despite retiring nearly 10 years ago.
“If I stopped making violins, life for me would be over. Every day I’m here in the workshop. It’s an antidote to old age,” said a smiling Conia, 74, whose father crafted violins and whose son is also pursuing the family tradition.
Conia’s workbench faces that of his son’s. Both are covered with files, clamps, compasses, brushes and small saws. Wooden planks are laid on the floor.

Violin body patterns hang in Stefano Conia’s workshop in Cremona on June 9.

Photo: AFP
“Going into violin-making was a natural choice,” said Conia’s son, Stefano, known as “the youngster” who began handling tools at the age of seven or eight.
He spent his childhood in the workshop his father opened in 1972, two months before his birth.
“I would play with the wood and the musicians would come and buy their violins and play,” said the younger Conia. “It’s always been a special atmosphere, which I really liked.”
For the Conias, the violins lovingly made from flamed maple or spruce are more than just instruments — they become family.
“The instruments are a bit like children. They live thanks to the energy we give them, it is a part of us that will continue to live after our death,” Stefano Conia said.
Like the Conias, the majority of Cremona’s luthiers are foreigners. Many came to study at the Cremona International Violin Making School and stayed on.
“The school was started in 1938, the first teachers were foreigners and the students come from all over the world. There is a saying that ‘Nobody is a prophet in his own country’ and it’s true that we, Cremonese violinmakers, are really few and far between,” said Marco Nolli, 55, one of this exclusive club.
Of the one-third of Cremona’s violinmakers who are Italian, only about 10 percent come from Cremona, he said.
Benedicte Friedmann, a 45-year-old from France, has been living in “the cradle of violin-making” for about 20 years. “Coming to Cremona was — and maybe it’s a bit pretentious to say this — like walking in the footsteps of the greatest, Stradivarius, Guarneri, Amati,” she said, referring to the city’s most revered craftsmen of centuries past.
“Being a luthier here means being able to devote yourself 100 percent to creating instruments, and the more you do, the better you become,” Friedmann said.
In France, to earn a living as a violinmaker, many people do repairs, re-hair bows or sell accessories, which leaves them little time for their art, she said.
However, the situation is not always simple for the violinmakers of Cremona, who enjoyed growth in the 1960s-1980s, before things got tougher.
“Our market, which is an elite market, has shrunk. We are facing a very serious problem,” said Giorgio Grisales, president of the artisans’ consortium.
Fewer performances and musical venues and the preference of seasoned violinists for antique instruments from the 18th and 19th centuries have hurt the niche industry. Even before COVID-19 swept through northern Italy, Grisales said that “the sector was in trouble because of ruthless competition from China and Eastern Europe.”
China is the world’s leading producer of bowed instruments with US$77.8 million in exports last year, or 1.5 million instruments, more than half of the world market, according to the International Trade Centre.
Italy is in fifth position, with 4.6 percent of world exports, behind the UK and Germany, but ahead of France. Italy’s main customers are Japan and the US.
Italian violinmakers must contend with counterfeit instruments in the marketplace, some built elsewhere and advertised as Cremonese, but above all competition comes from lower priced violins. Master instruments start at 25,000 euros (US$27,943), although others of fine quality can sell for about 10,000 euros less, Grisales said.
However, for 200 euros or less, it is possible to buy a Chinese violin, bow and case.
“They are economic instruments, made in series, and intended for those who are beginning to study,” baroque violinist Fabrizio Longo said.
Friedmann, the French violinmaker, said that the process of making a violin in China is for the most part vastly different from the craftsmanship she and others in Cremona engage in.
“They are handmade, but 10 violinmakers work every day on the same parts. It’s a line job and at the end you get an assembly,” she said. “There’s no uniqueness, no authenticity.”
In Cremona, Grisales said that it takes at least 300 hours to make a violin, or between two to three months.
Another challenge for the luthiers is to stand out among the Cremonese competition.
“Getting known is a bit laborious,” while the search for orders “is a permanent quest,” Friedmann said.
Some violinmakers have been able to offer lower prices — hurting fellow luthiers — by working on the black market and avoiding high taxes.
Despite these challenges, Friedmann said that the concentration of violinmakers in Cremona creates a healthy environment of emulation and the desire to excel.
“When I’m asked which is the most beautiful instrument I’ve made, 
for me it’s always the next one,” she said.

FRENCH:
La luthière Benedicte Friedmann 
se met au diapason de la tradition 
dans la ville italienne de Crémone

Bénédicte Friedmann, une violoniste française de 45 ans, a vécu 

dans "le berceau de la lutherie" depuis une vingtaine d'années. "Venir à Crémone, c'était - 

et c'est peut-être un peu prétentieux de le dire - comme de marcher sur les traces des plus grands, 

Stradivarius, Guarneri, Amati", a-t-elle déclaré, en faisant référence aux plus vénérés de la ville 

artisans des siècles passés.

"Etre luthier ici, c'est pouvoir se consacrer à 100 % à la création d'instruments, et plus on en fait, mieux on se porte", a déclaré Friedmann.

En France, pour gagner leur vie en tant que luthier, beaucoup de gens font des réparations, recoiffent des archets ou vendent des accessoires, ce qui leur laisse peu de temps pour leur art, a déclaré M. Friedmann.

Cependant, la situation n'est pas toujours simple pour les luthiers de Crémone, qui ont connu une croissance dans les années 1960-1980, avant que les choses ne se durcissent.

"Notre marché, qui est un marché d'élite, s'est rétréci. Nous sommes confrontés à un problème très sérieux". 

a déclaré Giorgio Grisales, président du consortium d'artisans.

La diminution du nombre de représentations et de lieux de musique et la préférence des violonistes chevronnés pour les instruments anciens des XVIIIe et XIXe siècles ont nui à cette industrie de niche. Avant même que COVID-19 ne s'étende au nord de l'Italie, M. Grisales a déclaré que "le secteur était en difficulté en raison de la concurrence impitoyable de la Chine et de l'Europe de l'Est".

La Chine est le premier producteur mondial d'instruments à archet avec 77,8 millions de dollars d'exportations l'année dernière, soit 1,5 million d'instruments, plus de la moitié du marché mondial, selon le Centre du commerce international.

L'Italie est en cinquième position, avec 4,6 % des exportations mondiales, derrière le Royaume-Uni et l'Allemagne, mais devant la France. Les principaux clients de l'Italie sont le Japon et les États-Unis.

Les luthiers italiens doivent faire face à des instruments contrefaits sur le marché, certains fabriqués ailleurs et annoncés comme étant de Crémone, mais la concurrence vient surtout des violons à bas prix. Les instruments de maître commencent à 25 000 euros (27 943 dollars US), mais d'autres de bonne qualité peuvent se vendre environ 10 000 euros de moins, a déclaré M. Grisales.

Toutefois, pour 200 euros ou moins, il est possible d'acheter un violon, un archet et un étui chinois.

"Ce sont des instruments économiques, fabriqués en série, et destinés à ceux qui commencent à étudier", a déclaré le violoniste baroque Fabrizio Longo.

Friedmann, le luthier français, a déclaré que le processus de fabrication d'un violon 

n Chine est pour l'essentiel très différente de l'artisanat qu'elle et 

d'autres personnes à Crémone s'engagent.

"Ils sont faits à la main, mais dix luthiers travaillent chaque jour sur les mêmes pièces. C'est un travail à la chaîne et à la fin, on obtient un assemblage", a déclaré M. Friemann. "Il n'y a pas d'unicité, pas d'authenticité."

À Crémone, Grisales a déclaré qu'il faut au moins 300 heures pour fabriquer un violon, soit deux à trois mois.

Un autre défi pour les luthiers est de se démarquer dans le concours de Crémone.

"Se faire connaître est un peu laborieux", alors que la recherche de commandes "est une quête permanente", a déclaré Friedmann.

Certains luthiers ont pu proposer des prix plus bas - ce qui a nui à leurs confrères - en travaillant au marché noir et en évitant des taxes élevées.

Malgré ces difficultés, M. Friedmann a déclaré que la concentration des luthiers à Crémone crée un environnement sain d'émulation et de désir d'exceller.

"Quand on me demande quel est le plus bel instrument que j'ai fabriqué, 

Pour moi, c'est toujours la prochaine", a déclaré Friedmann.




Friday, June 19, 2020

Cli-Fi Blog Interview With a Cli-Fi Movie Fan in the Far West with 6 questions for Dan Bloom





Cli-Fi Blog Interview

1.  what drew you in to promoting "cli-fi" as a new literary genre for
climate fiction novels?
In 2011, i was beginning to get very worried about how the media in general was ignoring climate change issues. So i decided to to put the cli-fi term out there as an eye catching buzzword for headlines and book reviews. Somehow, it caught on.

2. Why do you find it important to promote environmental issues with novels and movies? Novels and movies with cli-fi themes can impact millions of fans across the world.

3. How tricky is it to use metaphor to try and frame real world issues? Very tricky. Not easy. But it's very important for 
climate science to inform climate fiction.

4. What are your favorite pieces of Cli-Fi to date?
Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver. Water Knife by paolo bacigalupi.

5. Where do you see cli-fi going and what does the future of Cli-Fi look like to you? I think cli-fi will really take off in the 2020s and 2030s. Its future is promising. Publishers and movie people are getting behind it.


6. What
do you hope to see?
I see both despair and hope. The climate emergency we are in is not a pretty picture, to be sure. But my DNA is based on optimism and hope. So i plan to soldier on as a cli-fi promoter via my website www.cli-fi.net and my blog posts and tweets.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

'Redemption' is a Holocaust novel with a history



'Redemption' is a Holocaust novel with a history

by staff writer

RE:  the ''Redemption'' story; here is a link.
https://www.sdjewishworld.com/2020/06/18/redeeming-a-holocaust-survivors-reputation/

SAN FRANCISCO -- Retired California theater producer and drama professor George Kovach is the stepson the late Cecelia ''Cilka'' Klein who was the subject of a recent Holocaust sex and romance novel by an Australian novelist named Heather Morris, who wrote an earlier sex and romance novel set during the Holocaust titled "The Tattooist of Auschwitz." In Morris' sequel to her bestselling first novel, titled "Cilka's Journey," she focused on Cecelia Klein, and Kovach found the portrayal of his Jewish stepmother highly objectionable and took Morris to court for trampling on the memory of Holocaust survivors in both novels. 

So he decided to tell his own story about the real ''Cilka'' in a novel that he and his wife co-wrote, titled "Redemption." The novel has been completed and Kovach and his wife are currently searching for a publisher in New York.

In recent email he told me: "Although this book is about real people and events, it is not just another novel 'based on
a true story.' The heroine and hero are two people I knew intimately, loved, and respected
immensely. They are, in fact, my stepmother and my father. This is the story of their sufferings,
their courage, and their love and devotion for each other. It is based on my conversations with
them over a period of years and on my father’s written memoirs of his time in the Soviet gulag."

Kovach explained that there is a reason for "Redemption" that goes beyond simply wanting to tell their
remarkable story, sharing: "My stepmother, Cecilia Klein-Kovacova, has already been represented in two
global best-sellers [by a non-Jewish writer from Australia.] Both claimed to be 'based on a true story.'  However, in these books, my
stepmother does many things that were impossible, or simply absurd, for a prisoner to do in
Auschwitz or the Gulag. The fabrication of this so-called 'true' character from rumor, selective
recollections, and an author’s lurid fantasies is deeply offensive to my stepmother’s memory. I
protested this false representation of my stepmother and my protest ignited a controversy on three
continents. That story will be found in the 'afterword' at the end of the novel."
"My wife and I searched for a way to redeem my stepmother’s character and tarnished
reputation, to show the woman we knew and loved," he added, noting: "Because we are writers, we decided the best
way would be to have her tell her own story as we heard it."

''Redemption'' is the story of his stepmother’s journey from the hell of a Nazi concentration
camp to a new hell in the Siberian gulag, he said. It is also the story of how his stepmother and his father
met and fell in love, as he put it in his email to me "in the last place on earth you would think genuine love between two people
could blossom and thrive, a place of physical torture, hopelessness, and gross brutality."

'And yet, Cecilia Klein and Ivan Kovach found each other and enduring love in this horrendous place," Kovach added. " Was
it love at first sight? Perhaps. The eternal attraction between a man and a woman touches the soul
in a way that transcends the degradation of humanity. I know this to be true because when I spent
time with them, I saw the depth of their mutual devotion and care for each other. It inspired me
and I hope it will inspire our readers.".  

​An ​''​epilogue​'' at the end of the book​ ​also ​briefly deal​s​ with what happened to Celia and Ivan after their release from the Gulag​, he said

POST-SCRIPT:

Kovach and his writer wife have co-written (under a single pen name) a novel about his father and stepmother Cecelia Klein, aka CILKA.  The couple have co-written a couple of mysteries earlier in their lives under a pen name so they know how to write a novel.

Last Spring and Summer 0f 2019 were very frustrating and painful for George. People he had always admired and loved, who were now dead, were presented by Australian writer Heather Morris and her publishers in a very negative light.

"I was able to save my father's reputation by my threat of suing them, but not Cecilia's. Since this brouhaha started, I've talked to numerous individuals, including, alas, family members who now feel Cecilia was some kind of monster," Kovach told this blog.

''That's why my wife and I wanted to write a book about the Cecilia we knew and what we knew about her. The novel deals with Cecilia's liberation from Ravensbruck, her arrest in Slovakia by the Soviets, and her meeting and falling in love with my father in the Gulag.''

''This novel is based on conversations we had with Cecilia and my father, on his memoirs of the Gulag, and on Cecilia's documents in my possession. Since we were writers, it only seemed natural that we defend her by writing a book really based on the true facts.We don't have a publisher as yet, but we will self-publish if necessary.''


There is also an "afterword'' at the end of the book, deals with the whole controversy with Heather Morris and her publishers.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

An interview with rising British literary critic Grace Robinson, born in 1996 with a big future ahead of her

INTRO: This blogger's eyes recently caught a very perceptive literary essay by British university student Grace Robinson in The Varsity student newspaper at Cambridge University, a campus publication read widely by the student body there and, it seems, far beyond thanks to the worldwide reach of the internet.  Born in 1996 in Blackpool, a seaside town in Lancashire on the northwest coast of Britain Grace graduated this June. For her undergraduate degree, she told us, she studied Modern and Medieval Languages and Literature, with  an emphasis on French and Italian languages and postcolonial Anglophone and Francophone literature.

This interview was conducted via email.
-- Dan Bloom in Taiwan

Chronicling coronavirus: Who will we want to pen the pandemic?

And subtitled: Grace Robinson explores the impact of coronavirus on the literary scene. 
LINK https://www.varsity.co.uk/arts/19303

QUESTION: Do you think a new literary genre might arise for novels and plays and poetry collections about life during the 2020-2025 pandemic, before, during and after? I'd be interested in hearing your ideas on this. Tell me more.
GRACE ROBINSON: I'm not sure that the creative response to the pandemic will emerge as a genre of its own, but perhaps more as a theme which spans genres, languages and countries. I imagine that, like a creative response to any major cultural or world event, this will continue for years to come, as different perspectives and voices come to light. I am, primarily, interested in how the publishing industry will seek to tell all the stories of the pandemic, not just those of writers with the space and time to set about chronicling their experiences now. This has become even more pertinent in recent weeks, as the murder of George Floyd and the resulting protests have sparked new interest in inclusive publishing and reading habits, and the power of literature to educate and inform us. Of course, the renewed momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement is itself becoming part of the pandemic's narrative, and will surely make its way into stories that seek to capture the cultural zeitgeist of such historic times. For this reason, predictions of what the literary response to COVID-19 will look like are still so difficult to make: we are still living through it, and I believe that only with the distance required to process the events will writers be able to craft holistic accounts of the pandemic.
These novels will appear in the UK of course, and in the USA and Canada and Australia, too. And the pandemic novels of the future will also be written across genres, from sci-fi and cli-fi to thrillers to memoirs and autofiction and young adult novels, too. Stage plays. Movie scripts. TV series from Netflix and Hulu and the BBC. And writers will be putting pen to paper on this subject in India and Sweden and Italy, too. In over a dozen languages, Japanese and Chinese and Spanish and French among them. What do you hope to see from these future novels? Might you be writing one yourself in future days? 
GRACE ROBINSON: I certainly think everything you've mentioned here will manifest at some point over the coming years, and the creative response to the pandemic will be long-lived. I imagine intersections between the pandemic and what you call 'clifi' will be produce popular and thrilling content - there's plenty of scope for pandemic-era dystopian narratives, whether on page, stage or screen. Personally, I will be interested in the depiction of the pandemic in literary fiction, which will undoubtedly emerge in a few years time. I would like to read stories which unveil the hidden realities of lives lived during times which currently feel completely surreal. In my Varsity article I talked at length about Ali Smith, whose 'Summer' will publish in August and which I await with bated breath - I imagine she will be the first British writer to chronicle the virus and its ramifications in her work. I do have a few ideas myself in terms of pandemic-era tales, so may very well put pen to paper in the coming years!
How does the covid pandemic intersect with the climate crisis, if at all? Your thoughts?
The COVID-19 pandemic absolutely intersects with the climate crisis, as a dramatic fall in global emissions has been a by-product of the near-global shut-down induced by the pandemic. It's incredible that demands climate activists have been making for years were inadvertently met within days, and raises many questions about why nothing was done sooner, and how easy it can actually be to effectuate change when deemed necessary. It is, however, far too soon for climate activists to begin celebrating; as lockdowns across the world ease up, the grim reality of a return to "business as usual" seems ever more likely. Now, more than ever, we need to ensure that the positive climate action brought about by the pandemic does not go to waste.
You recently published a very good article in the Varsity which was on the global Google News site where I found it. What has the reaction been to that article so far?
The article has been relatively well-received, although was published around the same time that the Black Lives Matter movement began to gain momentum again, so much of the media focus shifted to cover that. This is a testament to how quickly things can change, and how difficult it seems to pin down now exactly what the literary response to the pandemic will look like - the political landscape now is vastly different to when we first got in touch nearly two weeks ago.
Alison Flood at the Guardian newspapear recently wrote a good article on how some British writers are dealing with the lockdown and the pandemic in their novel writing? What did you think of her article? Any particular anecdotes she mentioned that stand out?
I enjoyed Alison's article, which focused on the changes that authors are currently having to make to their writing to address the pandemic. The different approaches were interesting - some were completely revising their narratives to encompass the many cultural signals of the current situation, whereas some have decided to shift the setting of their books back a few years to avoid the issue completely. The article certainly raises interesting questions for narratives which don't deal directly with the pandemic, but necessarily brush up against it: how much action can there really be when characters can't touch one another? Writers having to shape and re-shape current work is obviously one of the early challenges the pandemic will pose to literature; writers who begin brand-new pieces during this time will naturally feel their work immediately influenced by the current state of affairs.
Just for fun, and as a possible buzzword for newspaper editors and publishers, I am calling these new novels about the pandemic as part of what I have dubbed Corona-Lit and created a hashtag on Twitter for it at #CoronaLit -- what other genre names might appear later? Pandemic-Lit? Pan-Lit? Any suggestions that are serious or just in fun?
I see that #CoronaLit is being used quite a bit on Twitter now, and that seems the most zeitgeisty name there could be - for now!
What motivated you to want to write the Varsity piece you wrote on pandemic novels and what did your editors say when you submitted it?
As I wrote in the piece, my thinking was very much influenced by Ali Smith. I read the third instalment of her seasonal quartet, Spring, in April, which got me thinking about the novel's capacity as rapid-response unit in times of political turbulence. I imagine that Smith will be the first British author to chronicle the pandemic in the fourth and final installation of her series, Summer, and I'll be incredibly interested to see who will follow suit, and how the response will pan out across genres, and across the world.
DAN BLOOM: Thank you, Grace, for taking the time to do this interview online with me. I like your thoughts here.
GRACE ROBINSON: Thank you, Dan, for reaching out to me.

30/40

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Titus Kaphar (most likely a pen name the celebrated artist has created for himself) did not discover art until his mid-20s, when as a college student in Santa Clara, California he was trying to impress a young white woman named Julianne K. Philp, now his wife, with whom he has had two biracrial children, two boys, Savion,13 and Daven, 11.

'I Cannot Sell You This Painting.' Black New Haven Artist Titus Kaphar on his George Floyd TIME Magazine Cover and what it means to him as the maker of the image:

'I Cannot Sell You This Painting.' Artist Titus Kaphar on his George Floyd TIME Cover




Painting by Titus Kaphar for TIME

By Titus T. Kaphar        

  1. Titus Kaphar, who was born 43 years ago when his mother was 15, and whose birth name was most likely not Titus Kaphar, which is most likely a creative pen name the artist has taken, since KAPHAR IS A GREEK WORD FOR ''ATONEMENT''  AND NOT A SURNAME PER SE AND TITUS WAS MOST LIKELY NOT THE NAME HIS MOM GAVE HIM OR ON HIS BIRTH CERTIFICATE, did not discover art until his mid-20s, when as a college student in Santa Clara, California he was trying to impress a young white woman named Julianne K. Philp, who says she is related to George Washington's family in the distant past, now his wife, with whom he has had two biracial children, two boys, Savion,13 and Daven,  11.  
PHOTOS OF THE FAMILY HERE: https://www.facebook.com/julianne.kaphar
圖像裡可能有1 人、微笑中
圖像裡可能有1 人
未提供相片說明。
圖像裡可能有2 個人
未提供相片說明。
還有 436 張
                                 
June 4, 2020
Titus Kaphar is a Black American artist whose work examines the history of representation

Artist Titus Kaphar painted the portrait that appears on the cover of this week’s TIME about George Floyd. He has written the following piece as a text to accompany the work.


I
can not
sell
you
this
painting.

In her expression, I see the Black mothers who are unseen, and rendered helpless in this fury against their babies.

As I listlessly wade through another cycle of violence against Black people,
I paint a Black mother…
eyes closed,
furrowed brow,
holding the contour of her loss.

Is this what it means for us?
Are black and loss
analogous colors in America?
If Malcolm could not fix it,
if Martin could not fix it,
if Michael,
Sandra,
Trayvon,
Tamir,
Breonna and
Now George Floyd…
can be murdered
and nothing changes…
wouldn’t it be foolish to remain hopeful?
Must I accept that this is what it means to be Black
in America?

Do
not
ask
me
to be
hopeful.

I have given up trying to describe the feeling of knowing that I can not be safe in the country of my birth…
How do I explain to my children that the very system set up to protect others could be a threat to our existence?
How do I shield them from the psychological impact of knowing that for the rest of our lives we will likely be seen as a threat,
and for that
We may die?
A MacArthur won’t protect you .
A Yale degree won’t protect you .
Your well-spoken plea will not change hundreds of years of institutionalized hate.
You will never be as eloquent as Baldwin,
you will never be as kind as King…
So,
isn’t it only reasonable to believe that there will be no
change
soon?

And so those without hope…
Burn.

This Black mother understands the fire.
Black mothers
understand despair.
I can change NOTHING in this world,
but in paint,
I can realize her….
This brings me solace…
not hope,
but solace.

She walks me through the flames of rage.

My Black mother rescues me yet again.

I want to be sure that she is seen.

I want to be certain that her story is told.

And so,
this time
America must hear her voice.

This time
America must believe her.

One
Black
mother’s
loss
WILL
be
memorialized.

This time
I will not let her go.

I
can not
sell
you
this
painting.

=============================

George Floyd Cover

The Story Behind TIME's George Floyd Cover




Painting by Titus Kaphar for TIME

Ideas
June 4, 2020
D.W. Pine is the Creative Director at TIME.

For the June 15, 2020, cover on the protests surrounding the death of George Floyd, we turned to prominent American artist Titus T. Kaphar.

Kaphar’s 60″x60″ oil painting, titled Analogous Colors, features an African-American mother holding her Black child. To complete the work, Kaphar cut out the canvas to show a mother’s loss: Floyd called out to his deceased mother during the 8 minutes and 46 seconds he was pinned to the ground by a Minneapolis police officer after being arrested while on drugs and resisting arrest.
“Mamma!” Floyd, 46, called out. “Mamma! I’m through.” Floyd’s mother, Larcenia Floyd, died in 2018.


FIND PHOTO ONLINE: A young George Floyd as infant with his mother Larcenia Floyd
“In her expression, I see the black mothers who are unseen, and rendered helpless in this fury against their babies,” writes Kaphar. “As I listlessly wade through another cycle of violence against black people, I paint a black mother … eyes closed, furrowed brow, holding the contour of her loss.”
For the first time ever in the history of the United States which began importing black slaves from Africa in 1620, some 400 years ago, surrounding Kaphar’s painting, the red border of TIME includes the names of people: 35 black men and women whose deaths, in many cases by police, were the result of systemic racism and helped fuel the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. Their names are merely a fraction of the many more who have lost their lives because of the racist violence that has been part of this nation from its start.

The names are Trayvon Martin, Yvette Smith, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Laquan McDonald, Tanisha Anderson, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, Jerame Reid, Natasha McKenna, Eric Harris, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, William Chapman, Sandra Bland, Darrius Stewart, Samuel DuBose, Janet Wilson, Calin Roquemore, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Joseph Mann, Terence Crutcher, Chad Robertson, Jordan Edwards, Aaron Bailey, Stephon Clark, Danny Ray Thomas, Antwon Rose, Botham Jean, Atatiana Jefferson, Michael Dean, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd.
In a piece accompanying the painting, Ti writes, “This black mother understands the fire. Black mothers understand despair. I can change nothing in this world, but in paint, I can realize her. That brings me solace … not hope, but solace. She walks me through the flames of rage. My black mother rescues me yet again. I need to be sure that they can see her. I want to be certain that her story is told. And so this time, America needs to hear her voice.”

Read “I cannot sell this painting” by Titus Kaphar.

Kaphar, who received a BFA from a California art school where he met his wife and was the recipient of a 2018 MacArthur Fellowship Grant, also created a painting for TIME in 2014 marking the protests in Ferguson, Yet Another Fight for Remembrance, which captured black protestors, arms raised up and obscured with layers of white brushstrokes.

His commitment to social engagement has led him to move beyond traditional modes of artistic expression: Kaphar established NXTHVN, an arts incubator and residency program based in New Haven, Conn. His work is in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art and The National Portrait Gallery in D.C., among others



Painting by Titus Kaphar for TIME
“I have given up trying to describe the feeling of knowing that I can not be safe in the country of my birth,” says the 44-year-old artist, who was born in Kalamazoo, Mich., and now works in his New Haven studio. “How do I explain to my children that the very system set up to protect others could be a threat to our existence? How do I shield them from the psychological impact of knowing that for the rest of our lives we will likely be seen as a threat?”

=====================

See Titus Kaphar’s Paintings About Black Motherhood





Titus Kaphar in his studio with his painting The Aftermath (2020), New Haven, Connecticut, 2020. Photo: Artwork © Titus Kaphar. Photo: John Lucas. Courtesy Gagosian.
             
Titus Kaphar loves art history, but he takes from the canon what he wants and turns it toward his own ends. The MacArthur-winner (and Ted Talk-er) is subverting these “classical” styles to use them to address the history of slavery and racism. Now represented by Gagosian, Kaphar describes his latest paintings, From a Tropical Space, as a “surrealist, fictional Afro-futuristic narrative” about black mothers and the disappearance of their children.
Black women have not been represented as Madonnas, Venuses, or odalisques, Kaphar observes. “What we have is the depiction of black folks in general, and black women specifically, as enslaved and [in] servitude.” This series, which Kaphar hopes to translate into a film one day, is a conversation about the Madonna paintings and Michelangelo’s Pietà. “These are mothers mourning the loss of their children,” he says.




Although the New York exhibition of this work has been postponed, Kaphar is the focus of Gagosian’s latest “Artist Spotlight” through May 12.
Let’s talk about From a Tropical Space
When I started this project, it was unfamiliar to me. I’d started this painting with these two women sitting on this couch with this otherworldly white light kind of dancing off their foreheads and where the children were on their laps were cut out and removed. I was really happy with the formal aspects of the painting, but it felt like it didn’t fit with anything I was working on currently. So I stuck it to the side of the studio and then just periodically came back to it.




What made you come back to it?
Part of the reason for me not being happy with it was, it felt like it was telling the story of black domestics, black women who were caretakers for white people’s babies. And I just didn’t want to go there. I felt like I’ve had that conversation before. Then a couple of months later, I came back to the painting and asked myself the question What in the composition insisted that the baby sitting on their laps didn’t belong to them? And I had to admit that there was nothing.




Titus Kaphar, Braiding possibility, 2020. Oil on canvas. 83 3/4 x 68 inches. 212.7 x 172.7 cm. Photo: © Titus Kaphar. Photo: Christopher Gardener. Courtesy the artist and Gagosian.
It sounds like in deciding to pursue this series, you had to reassess your own biases. 
I’m keenly aware of the way in which my own personal bias from studying Western art history will even influence the way that I even see the things that I make. Because of that, I almost decided just not to go on this particular journey. But when I realized that I needed to address this bias in myself, or rather my seeing, then it became something that was worth investigating. At a certain point, I was doing studio visits. I had folks walk into the studio, and as I suspected, their interpretations turned these mothers into domestic workers who were only momentarily caring for these children. The bias that I was experiencing in myself reiterated through other eyes, as well.




At first glance, the paintings look like a departure from your past work with its source material in art history.
In the same way that the idea that these mothers are actually mammys, caretakers, domestics, au pairs, that understanding of the work is there because of a history, a reality that occurred. We don’t see very many pictures of black women in art history, period. They are not our Madonnas. They’re not our Venuses. They are not our odalisques. What we have is the depiction of black folks in general, and black women specifically, as enslaved and [in] servitude. When I looked at the compositions themselves, I realized that this [series] is a conversation about the Madonna. This is a conversation about the Pietà. These are mothers mourning the loss of their children. So in that way, the relationship to art history is there. It’s just, the expression has changed.




The depictions of the children are actually excised from the canvas.
They’re cut out with the razor blade very surgically and removed. This whole body of work has unfolded for me as a sort of surrealist, fictional Afro-futuristic narrative. What became clear to me was that this was a story about black mothers and the disappearance of their children.
When I brought my mother into this studio, she saw one of the paintings and said, “You know, that reminds me of Flint.” My family’s from Michigan. I said, “What do you mean?” And she said, “Well, you know, obviously, the sky’s not that color in Flint, but there’s a sense that the environment itself is toxic and will kill you.” And we live in communities like this all over the country. So the feeling, the mood, speaks to the trauma that these mothers are experiencing. That kind of anxiety, that kind of fear in these paintings, culminates into this moment of absence.




Titus Kaphar, The distance between what we have and what we want, 2019. Oil on canvas. 108 x 84 1/4 inches. 274.3 x 214 cm. Photo: © Titus Kaphar. Photo: Christopher Gardener. Courtesy the artist and Gagosian.
You’ve said your work is not about COVID-19. But in a way, this work continues the conversation we’re having about the effects of the pandemic, falling disproportionately on people of color. 
So what we’re talking about is the trauma. And how it works is, these moments of despair highlight the gap between communities in this country better than any exposé, right? When we’re talking about COVID, there are some specifics that have to do with the virus and health care, but the real lasting conversation that we should be having, the conversation that is going to go beyond COVID, is about that disparity in the communities. And so in that way, this body of work reflects what has been there. It’s not for the sole purpose of teaching somebody a lesson. That’s not the way that I make my work. It’s for the purpose of me exploring my experience. The work is not about COVID, but there are a couple of pieces that the nature of what’s happening in the country right now can’t be removed from the understanding of the piece anymore.




Tell me about your life right now.
In a lot of ways, it hasn’t changed anything. I’m a very private person. I’m not really on social media. I’m a studio hermit, so I continue to be a studio hermit. My family is fine. My brother got really sick in Detroit, where he lives. The hospitals there just didn’t have enough space for people. So he had a temperature of 105. More or less, they just gave him Tylenol and sent them home. There was just no place to put people. And that speaks to that disparity that we’re talking about in communities like this. In that way, I’m affected like everyone else is affected, when their loved ones’ health is at risk, but I’m incredibly blessed, honestly. I mean lucky. I do a job where I can do it on my own and I can continue working. The quiet of the day has been helpful.




Titus Kaphar, From a Tropical Space, 2019. Oil on canvas. 92 x 72 inches. 233.7 x 182.9 cm. Photo: © Titus Kaphar. Photo: Christopher Gardener. Courtesy the artist and Gagosian.
Congrats on joining Gagosian. How’d you end up deciding to join that gallery?
I appreciate the congratulations about Gagosian. This is sort of misunderstood, the dates of these things are misunderstood, so let me clarify. I left Jack Shainman some time ago. I’ve been away from their gallery for almost two years, and I was managing my studio on my own. I was sort of representing myself in that way. I was actually fine with it. I hadn’t been looking for another gallery but had been approached by several of the larger galleries. To be completely honest with you, when Sam Orlofsky asked me to do a studio visit, I really wasn’t taking it that seriously. I never pictured myself as being at Gagosian, and I was, as I said, okay with being on my own. But when he came in, we went to NXTHVN first and we spent an hour and a half, almost two hours, over there. He really took time with each of the artists in the program. Then we came back and did a studio visit, and it was clear to me that he, as a representative of Gagosian, understood that the NXTHVN project is not a side thing for me. It’s not a hobby. This is fundamental to my practice.




NXTHVN is a part of your life’s work now.
That’s right. Not only did they understand that, but they valued that. They stepped up and committed to supporting NXTHVN significantly as a part of their support for me. Our conversations weren’t about money, which is what I think most people think when you move on to Gagosian or Hauser & Wirth or Pace or any of the big ones. Our conversation was about ideas and my values as an artist, and the essential aspect of my practice, which is NXTHVN.




What’s next for you?
It’s my dream to direct a film based on this body of work. I’ve been collaborating with a couple of friends of mine, and we’re releasing the short piece relatively soon. I’ve collaborated with my friend Nigerian-American writer Tochi Onyebuchi. He and I have been collaborating on a piece of writing. And then, another friend of mine, Samora Pinderhughes, who was a great jazz pianist, we’re collaborating on a music project. The gallery is actually releasing a kind of short episodic artistic film piece that will go along with this. We’ll go along with this “Spotlight” and exhibition. I’m really excited about exploring these other mediums, music and film, to continue telling the story. The idea is that these works will be brought back and the second chapter of the narrative will be shown in Los Angeles next year. Hopefully by that point, we will have some of this cinematic piece to show at that time.
The colors in your pieces are so kaleidoscopic and luminous. Will the film be like that? 
That’s exactly how I want the ultimate film to be. The saturation in these paintings is less about a geographic place and more about an internal landscape. It reflects the emotional pitch of what’s going on for these characters, even though in these moments they are frozen. They are still. We’ve caught most of these women in the instance right before they realized the child has disappeared, but their anxiety is already rising.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
One work from the show, Braiding possibility (2020), will be available for sale beginning on Friday, May 8, at 6 a.m. ET, for 48 hours.

Tags:

  • titus kaphar
  • =============================
  • I wonder if you could start by talking about your own evolution as an artist. It’s my understanding that you came to art later in life, correct?
    I did. I was in my mid-twenties when I decided ultimately that this was what I wanted to do. Prior to that I thought I wanted to be a rock star. [laughter]. Maybe I still do a little bit. I’m a bass player.
    Let me step back a little bit. I didn’t do well at school. I failed most of the classes that I took. I got kicked out of kindergarten. I was suspended very often in high school. I wasn’t a good student to say the least. I went on to junior college only because I was trying to impress a whte woman named Julianne Philp who would later become my wife and bear our two sons. Long story short, I took an art history class in junior college and it opened up the world to me. It made me realize that I had a kind of visual intelligence I never knew existed, and that if I could understand the world through images—and sound also—I could figure things out. So I went from being a very poor student to being on the dean’s list, and that was mind blowing to me. That sent me on this journey to pursue art and it started off as this very art-historical approach. I was taking as many art history classes as I could find.       
  •  
  • ==================
  • An Artist Rises, and Brings a Generation With Him

    In a struggling neighborhood with a vibrant history, Titus Kaphar found a home for himself. Now he’s creating a center there to nurture emerging artists.



    Credit...Sasha Arutyunova for The New York Times
    NEW HAVEN — Like many town-and-gown cities, New Haven is a community of parallel narratives. There is the storied Elm City of Yale University, a place of carillon bell towers, leaded glass windows and lush quadrangles behind iron gates.
    But the artist Titus Kaphar wants to shift the narrative to a part of the city little known to outsiders, a once-thriving historic African-American neighborhood called Dixwell where he and his family have lived for more than a decade.
    Mr. Kaphar, 42, has a profound connection to the forgotten, from the slaves owned by the founding fathers to the ubiquity of African-Americans in the criminal justice system, including his own father. The recipient of a recent MacArthur “genius” award, the artist is challenging racism in a body of strong work that has entered the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum and the Yale University Art Gallery, and was recently featured at the National Portrait Gallery. Mr. Kaphar is known for appropriating images from American and European art in order to subvert them, cutting them into his canvases to pull back the velvet curtain of history. He wields materials like tar, wire, gold leaf and nails to unearth the past’s inconvenient truths, and to shine a restorative light on those residing in the shadows.




    In Dixwell, a neighborhood buffeted by need in the shadows of Yale, he is rewriting the script with NXTHVN (for “Next Haven”), a $12 million nonprofit arts incubator and fellowship program he founded to nurture rising talents. The enterprise is housed in two once-moribund factory buildings that are being reimagined by the architect Deborah Berke, dean of the Yale School of Architecture.







    Image
    Credit...Deborah Berke Partners



    Image
    Credit...Sasha Arutyunova for The New York Times
    He envisions the project as a beacon for graduates hellbent on getting out of Dodge for New York (Mr. Kaphar, a 2006 Yale School of Art graduate, “drank the Kool-Aid” himself). “New Haven has some of the most esteemed artists in the world,” he said. “Yet as a city, we’ve done very little to say, ‘Why don’t you stay here?’”
    The first half, studios for seven artist-fellows, is up and running in a former ice cream factory filled with natural light. The second building, where lab equipment was manufactured, is under renovation and NXTHVN hard hats are everywhere. The complex will unfold in phases and include a cafe run by a local nonprofit, a combined co-working and gallery space, a theater and a three-story addition with skylights and loft-like apartments for visiting artists-in-residence.
    Financing for the 40,000-square-foot project has come from the state ($3 million) and the city ($1 million for facade improvements), with several million dollars from private foundations and philanthropies. Collectors of the artist’s work have helped subsidize the fellowship program.




    Long a cultural hub for black residents, with a jazz club where Miles Davis and other luminaries played, the neighborhood was devastated by urban renewal and the 2006 closing of the Winchester Repeating Arms Factory up the street, which once employed 26,000 people. “I think sometimes folks feel like we, as poor people, don’t know the difference,” Mr. Kaphar said of bringing distinctive arts and architecture to the neighborhood. “So we’ll get the leftovers — the backpack someone already discarded, the building that the city couldn’t find any other use for.”
    The idea of an internationally competitive fellowship was inspired by Mr. Kaphar’s residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem, a program founded in 1968 by William T. Williams, an artist he reveres. The seven artist-fellows at NXTHVN were chosen from 166 applicants. They are being steeped in art business nitty-gritty, from negotiating with galleries to public speaking.
    “The art world is full of secrets,” said Vaughn Spann, who graduated in 2018 with a master’s degree in fine arts from Yale. “Titus is unlocking the vault.”
    Talented young people from local high schools serve as paid apprentices, learning how to sand and apply gesso to panels, or edit images online.







    Image
    Credit...Sasha Arutyunova for The New York Times



    Image
    Credit...Sasha Arutyunova for The New York Times
    Image
    Credit...Sasha Arutyunova for The New York Times
    Historically, artists have learned their craft by apprenticing with masters, Mr. Kaphar noted. “Diego Velázquez never went to graduate school,” he added.
    Velázquez also never gave a major TED Talk — as Mr. Kaphar has notably done, demonstrating how artists convey wealth and privilege by taking a copy of a Frans Hals portrait of a 16th-century aristocratic family and whitewashing the main figures to shift the gaze to a black servant in the background. The painting will be the subject of “One: Titus Kaphar,” an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum starting June 21.
    In his 2018 painting, “Seeing Through Time,” perched on two paint cans at NXTHVN (it is now on view at Mass MoCA, the Berkshires museum),
    Mr. Kaphar layered European characters onto a canvas, then peeled them back, creating space for a black girl, dressed in velvet and pearls, to emerge alongside a powerful contemporary woman. The girl breaks through layers of paint, and with it, the patriarchal and monoracial currents in the Western canon.
    “For 400 years, the little girl on the side was always there,” he said of the art-historical device. “But you were never supposed to contemplate her personhood — her wants, needs and desires.”







    Image
    Credit...Ryan Lash/TED
    Mr. Kaphar did not discover art until his mid-20s, when he was trying to impress a young woman named Julianne, now his wife. He registered for an art survey class at a junior college in California and was outraged when the professor announced that they would be skipping over the “black people in art” section.
    As a graduate student he looked hard at paintings and sculpture in the Yale University Art Gallery. Fittingly, his own work now hangs there: “Shadows of Liberty” (2016) is a portrait of George Washington in which his torso and face are obscured by nailed canvas strips, each inscribed with the names of slaves Washington owned in a given year.
    In “Yet Another Fight for Remembrance” (2015), commissioned by Time magazine after Ferguson, Mo., young black protesters, their hands raised in a don’t-shoot stance, are caught in aggressive strokes of white paint, suggesting attempts to silence their voices. The humanity of their gaze is visible above the fray. The work “stops you flat,” Murray Whyte wrote in The Boston Globe. “This is rough stuff, yet it’s plied with seductive grace.”
    IN MANY WAYS, NXTHVN represents Mr. Kaphar’s own “seeing through time,” reaching back into his own personal history to give promising young people a gift he never had. His father was in and out of prison for most of Mr. Kaphar’s childhood. In Kalamazoo, Mich., where he was born, the family earned extra cash in the neighborhood by carting metal barrels of burned trash to the dump.
    For years he bounced among various family members, at one point living in a basement. At age 15, he left his father’s house for good after witnessing a violent incident in which the older man hit his girlfriend, who struck a mirror. Young Titus picked glass out of the woman’s back — and didn’t speak to his father again for 20 years.







    Image
    Credit...Titus Kaphar; Yale University Art Gallery
    Image
    Credit...Titus Kaphar
    “There is a way in which my life is a trope,” he observed the other day. “‘Poor black boy from bad neighborhood becomes famous artist.’ As with all tropes, it lacks specificity.”
    In San Jose, Calif., where his mother — who now has a master’s degree in counseling — lived briefly, he connected with a stable, close-knit family, a widower and his three sons, who became an anchoring force. He wound up living with them during his high school years. Later, the man, whom Mr. Kaphar calls “my dad,” Mars Severe, told him “I saw something in you.”
    “Senseless generosity got me here where I am,” Mr. Kaphar said.
    The Jerome Project, perhaps his best-known work, was inspired by glimmers of reconciliation with his estranged father, Jerome, who was remorseful when Mr. Kaphar encountered him at a family gathering. He researched his father’s incarceration record online and was stunned to find “99 other men with the exact same name — all of them trapped in the criminal justice system and all of them black,” he said.







    Image
    Credit...Titus Kaphar
    Working from mug shots, the artist painted a series of devotional portraits of 65 Jeromes in Byzantine-style gold leaf, partly submerging each in tar based on the amount of time each Jerome spent in prison. The paintings, shown at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 2014, express the suffocation of life behind bars — and the resilience necessary to survive. When his father saw the paintings, he was able to connect some revelatory dots between his own employment challenges and his criminal past. The rapprochement between father and son continues to unfold.
    “Redaction,” Mr. Kaphar’s collaboration with the poet, lawyer and writer Reginald Dwayne Betts at MoMA PS1 through May 5, casts a critical and artistic eye on the human fallout of the cash bail system, in which poor defendants who have yet to be tried or convicted remain in jail.




    “We’re redacting to reveal,” said Mr. Betts, who was tried as an adult for carjacking at age 16 and imprisoned. (He has since gotten his J.D. degree at Yale Law School and is pursuing a Ph.D. there.) Mr. Kaphar’s piercing etched portraits, intentionally blurred to obscure identities, appear behind hand-redacted poetry drawn from legal complaints filed by the nonprofit Civil Rights Corps, with the dark redacted lines resembling prison bars. The parting image is a large Jerome Project painting of Mr. Betts featuring flecks of gold-leaf shimmering in the tar.
    “Titus’s work elicits a strong response,” said Sarah Suzuki, the curator. “He works from a place that’s very personal. But he also asks other people to connect their own experiences to it.”







    Image
    Credit...via Titus Kaphar Studio



    Image
    Credit...Sasha Arutyunova for The New York Times
    In New Haven, the artist’s unassuming backyard studio stands out for a maraschino cherry-red 1956 GMC pickup in the driveway. Moving here after two years in New York provided the breathing room to take risks like “The Vesper Project,” a five-year effort that involved constructing a house in various states of decay to reflect a fictional character’s mental meltdown.
    Mr. Kaphar and his wife live about three blocks from NXTHVN with their sons, Savion, now 12, and Daven, 10; they selected the neighborhood “so the kids would be able to see reflections of themselves,” he said.




    A blitzkrieg tour of some of the artist’s favorite haunts started with gelato by an artisanal confectioner, followed by a chaser of barbecued pork ribs. He is on a first-name basis with the guards at the Yale University Art Gallery, who “spend far more time with the paintings than the curators,” he said. The city (pop. 130,000) is intimate enough that kindred spirits bump into each other. Mr. Kaphar and Jason Price, a private equity professional who became NXTHVN’s co-founder, met when their boys requested a play date. He first encountered Mr. Betts at a dinner party where they argued about a book by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
    The artist has established personal relationships with collectors who have since donated to the NXTHVN cause. “It’s very unusual for a collector to look beyond his or her own nose,” said Jock Reynolds, the recently retired longtime director of the Yale University Art Gallery, who has known Mr. Kaphar since he was a graduate student and is now on the art incubator’s board.
    “He doesn’t openly solicit,” said Barbara Shuster, a New York philanthropist and collector. “Because of his personality and his earnestness,” she added, “you hear about what he’s creating and want to be a part of it.”
    Mr. Kaphar and his team are well aware of the tripwire of gentrification. But they also know the negative effects of disinvestment in the Dixwell neighborhood, where the buildings sat vacant for years after being used as a depot for illegal counterfeit goods. They are currently owned by Mr. Kaphar and two friends, who originally intended a far more modest arrangement in which raw space would be leased to artists in the area. The group, which includes the sculptor Jonathan Brand, plans to transfer ownership to the nonprofit.
    The plan to build NXTHVN in phases instead of a grand ribbon-cutting “is a gracious way to connect with the community,” Ms. Berke said. Her design opens the cafe, co-working and gallery space to the street, and apprentices will give tours of rotating exhibitions.
    “New Haven has a rich African-American history, with a lot of economic depression,” said the poet Elizabeth Alexander, president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the former chair of African-American studies at Yale. “Reactivating that history and legacy with art is very significant.”







    Image
    Credit...Sasha Arutyunova for The New York Times
    THE PROJECT JOINS a number of urban artist-driven initiatives around the country, most notably Rick Lowe’s pioneering Project Row Houses, which has transformed 39 structures within a five-block area of Houston’s Third Ward. Mr. Lowe inspired the renowned artists Theaster Gates, whose Rebuild Foundation has bought and refurbished dozens of buildings on Chicago’s South Side, and Mark Bradford, whose 20,000-square-foot Art + Practice campus in Leimert Park, Los Angeles, houses an education and employment program for foster youth, including paid internships in its contemporary art programs.
    For most people starting an undertaking of this nature would be more than a full-time job. With forthcoming exhibitions Mr. Kaphar is trying to balance unfettered time in his studio with the caffeinated boost he gets from the young apprentices and fellows, for whom he is mentor, cheerleader, and critic in chief.
    He would like young people from the neighborhood to “experience a Deborah Berke piece of architecture” and start thinking about space and light and the potential of art to transport someone over the threshold of difficult circumstances, as it did for him. “What I’m suggesting is that there is space for excellence and quality in our community — and I think we deserve it,” he said.
    Most mornings, you can find him at the local boxing club, Elephant in the Room, where his approach to the punching bag reflects his point of view. He tends to improvise his jabs. “It looks wrong but it works,” his coach, Solomon Maye, said. “Titus sees something, and then sees beyond what he sees.”      
  • art
  • gagosian