Artist Statement“Wisdom of the past is typically re-evaluated in each generation and re-interpreted or adjusted where deemed desirable in the light of available options and altered circumstances”- Arnold Rubin from African Accumulative Sculpture: Power and Display Antonio McAfee’s work addresses the complexity of representation. Through appropriating and manipulating portraits, he engages in prescribed views of individuals and rework images to provide an alternate - more layered image and concept of the people depicted. His photographs oscillate between formal considerations (modifying appearances and prints) and imaginary potential (establishing new back stories and roles) for the portraits. The source of the artist’s current portraits (Counter-Archive Project) is The Exhibition of American Negroes organized by W.E.B. Dubois, Thomas Calloway, and Historic Black Colleges for the Paris 1900 International Exposition. The exhibition was a photographic, economic, and legislative survey of middle-class blacks in Georgia. Discussing her strong feelings for a photographic portrait of a Native American family, Lucy Lippard presents the phrase ‘intersubjective time’. Despite all the differences between the family, photographer, and her - time (a century), ethnicity, gender, class, & etc. - she was able to develop a personal connection to the family that was rooted in how they were depicted. This urged her to conduct further research, which informed her of the specifics of their lives. This experience - and the quote at the top - are gestures and ideas kept close as Antonio creates work that rests in the past, gets filtered through his experiences and artistic practice, and is shared to an audience to offer something anew.
Antonio McAfee is a visual artist living in Baltimore, MD. He received his BFA in Photography from the Corcoran College of Art and Design. Shortly after, he earned his MFA in Photography from the University of Pennsylvania. In 2010, he was a Fulbright Student Scholar in Johannesburg, South Africa studying Arts and Culture Management at the University of the Witwatersrand from which he received a Post-Graduate Diploma in Art in Arts and Culture Management. Currently, McAfee is an instructor at the Corcoran School of Art and Design at George Washington University and Montgomery College