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American Gods” in Detroit: Artist Tylonn Sawyer’s New Exhibition Paints the Political

Tylonn Sawyer

Congregation: MLK” (2015) by Tylonn Sawyer. Part of his “American Gods” solo exhibition at the N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art Detroit.

Click the audio player to listen. CultureShift airs weekdays at 12 p.m.

Detroit-based artist Tylonn Sawyer wanted to create a body of work for his new exhibition at the N’namdi Center for Contemporary Art that was both personal and political.

With “American Gods,” Sawyer accomplishes that concept via a mix of drawings and paintings of prominent civil rights figures — Martin Luther King, Jr., James Baldwin, Nina Simone — wearing black and white cut-out masks to challenge the idea of collective identity.

Sawyer says that, throughout the years, those figures have reoccurred in his work because they’ve influenced him on multiple levels.

It’s like a contemporary totem to try and commune with our ancestors to try and figure out some of the madness that’s happening today,” says Sawyer.

Sawyer will host a discussion about his work at the N’namdi Center on Saturday, July 21st at 2 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

American Gods” is on display at the N’Namdi Center through September.

Image credit: Tylonn Sawyer

Aired on: CultureShift
About the Author

Ryan Patrick Hooper

Producer / Host, CultureShift

Ryan Patrick Hooper has worked as an arts and culture journalist in Detroit for over a decade.

hooper@wdet.org   Follow @hoopingtonpost

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