JOHN COLTRANE (SOCIAL STUDIES TOUR)
"JOHN COLTRANE (SOCIAL STUDIES TOUR)”
Medium: Ink on 12" x 12" New York Post Newspaper. Custom white floating frame under plexiglass.
Morton Contemporary Gallery in collaboration with The Bishop Gallery proudly presents Social Studies by Zeph Farmby, a multi-disciplinary artist with graffiti roots and great aspirations from South Side, Chicago. The Social Studies Tour, bridges icons from the Black Power past to the Black Lives Matter present. The tour has had successful exhibitions in Miami (December 2019), Chicago (February 2020), and twice in New York City including the debut in September 2019 at The Bishop Gallery. The Bishop Gallery most recently curated a private exhibition at SohoWorks in DUMBO Brooklyn, Spring 2021. The exhibition will continue to travel to Baltimore, and ending in Osaka, Japan in 2022. Each City of the tour will unveil new artworks exclusive to the series.
In Social Studies, Farmby imposes expressionist portraits of historical icons from the Civil Rights and Black Power era onto a popular ad campaign by Supreme, the ubiquitous streetwear and skater brand and The New York Post, the City’s daily newspaper. For city-based educators and activists, this exhibition provides a visual genealogy of the cultural and political revolutionaries that paved the way for current-day social activism.
Throughout his 2017-18 tenure as the Artist-in-Residence at Artspace-New Haven, Farmby maintained a parallel practice as a studio artist and commercial graphic designer-illustrator. During this period, Farmby created a perfect mash-up of both. Drawing from the methods of hip-hop sampling and jazz quotations, Farmby repurposed the Post’s headline and newsprint as frame and canvas, with Supreme’s fire-engine-red box logo as a signifier.
Farmby explains, “Each drawing compels us to see ourselves as supreme beings--not victims of society or its prejudices.” Farmby continues, “Social Studies is a reminder that even if we sprint through it, life is a marathon. Behold the majesty of our freedom fighters like Angela Davis and Huey P. Newton, and the beautiful genius of our artists like Nina Simone, Marvin Gaye, and Curtis Mayfield. Our Black lives and even our deaths carry deep purpose, value, and meaning. If their lasting impact changed the whole world, then we can too. And we must.” Throughout the five boroughs, this particular New York Post issue of August 13, 2018 became an instant collectible. It sold out and then re-sold out at a much higher value than its original one-buck price tag. Brooklyn’s homegrown The Bishop Gallery showcased these very issues, and Farmby’s original series that developed after that.