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Alfred Conteh

Growing up in a small southern college town, there weren’t many places in my area where I could be exposed to fine art. Comic books and cartoons were my main sources of inspiration to create art. I drew constantly, and my parents were very supportive in allowing me to express myself. Their untiring efforts to educate my siblings and myself about our family’s heritage, and about African-American culture and philosophy, assisted me to eventually find my path to becoming a narrative artist.

At Hampton University, my classmates were as talented as myself, and the competitive environment in which I created became invaluable to my work ethic. Classes, workshops, and meeting national/international artists-in-residency widened my acceptance of incorporating a more diverse array of unfamiliar subject matter into the fabric of my work. Also, as a student of a historically black institution, the impetus of my efforts were infused with reflecting the imagery, symbology, and mindset of the environment that surrounded me.

In graduate school, I had the time and facilities to experiment and formulate my own visual voice. The process of “making” became far more personal to me at this time. My experiences as a thinking man, a southerner, and an African American in this world, all found their way into how I expressed myself. It was here that my conviction and confidence as an artist combined to make my work truly important to me.

Now, I’m presently engaged in taking my work in more unconventional directions and exhibiting to larger audiences. Traveling and exposure to greater artists than myself has immensely broadened my understanding of what I do and hope to do. In time, I would hope that my work would allow me to travel more extensively to communicate to young black artists about the importance of recording and reflecting themselves and their community through art.

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