noun: identity; plural noun: identities

the fact of being who or what a person or thing is.


As humans, one of our great life missions is uncovering who we are and what our purpose is. Questions arise: How do we form our identity? Through language? Art? Science? Social norms? Do we have to look to our past, present or future to truly comprehend what it means “to be.” This selection of artists brings together notions of identity through portraiture. From perspectives of self-identification and observing what they see in others, participating artists use the past, present, and future to answer the question “Who are we?” 

Benjamin Moore’s latest series of portraits featuring close friends and celebrities include a motif he calls “Salami Eye.” He gives his subjects an orange-red blemish underneath the eye that resembles a slice of salami. Moore describes this trademark as a symbol of restlessness and mortality, a common truth amongst humans. He believes this exposed flesh is suggestive of the rawness required to experience self. 

Cedric Umoja awakens the primordial self through graffuturism; which is about striving for perfection by embracing imperfection and using graffiti as a transcendental element of movement, progression, and chaos. Using elements of science fiction and ancient African cultures, such as space and tribal masks, Umoja’s compositions prompt viewers to examine their origins through the past, present and into the future.   

Lauren Chapman uses oil paint and mixed media to create surreal portraits of women in dark wonderlands. Chapman’s combination of dark, sensual, and intense colors create mysterious interiors inviting  viewers into the space to consider universal truths.

Zachary Diaz, like Post-Impressionist Pierre Bonnard, captures the beauty of his models. Both artists’ use of color and soft brush strokes create a dreamlike portrait of their muses. 

Benjamin Moore (FART.PDF), Cedric Umoja, Lauren Chapman, and Zachary Diaz