Today we're spotlighting the work of an artist from our community, Markeith Woods!
Markeith Woods, a native of Pine Bluff, AR, is a 2014 graduate from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff with a Bachelor of Science degree in Visual Arts. In 2015, he attended Memphis College of Art for a year where he studied painting and drawing. Woods is currently in his second semester studying towards a Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville where he received a full scholarship, including a Graduate Fellowship and Graduate Assistantship. Within his five years of college experience, Woods had been very involved in art competitions and community projects. He has exhibited nationally in various locations including Agora Gallery in NYC, the Texarkana Regional Arts Council, Arkansas Arts Council Small Works On Paper, and has an upcoming show at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
Aside from being an artist, Woods is also an art educator. He worked for the Arts & Science Center in Pine Bluff, AR as an assistant educator where he gave tours and gained experience with organizing educational classes. This led him to an opportunity to work as a part-time substitute teacher at Lighthouse Academy Charter School in Pine Bluff, AR. In this role he was responsible for providing classroom learning and activities to students in grades K-6. From that experience, he furthered his educational career by becoming a full-time elementary art teacher, where he served for two years. Woods, is committed to motivating the world through the arts by inspiring, educating, and teaching hope in order to embrace purpose.
My paintings depict my exploration of the psychological state of living as a Black male in the United States. We’re always in survival mode in a culture that was built to create division and separation. I recreate personal experiences by translating conversations with my subjects into visual compositions using familiar images, poses, objects, environments, and emotions. Perception is everything, so my mission is to portray the figures in my artwork authentically. This is important to me from having experienced judgment based on preconceived notions throughout my life.
I paint my subjects going through transitions and other difficult experiences that I relate to, which come as a result of inadequate structures and systems in institutions meant to oppress. Life’s challenges and pain bring society’s ills to light, such as oppression, wage disparities, and unemployment. Through my work, I highlight these injustices while also revealing the true character of each subject.
I seek to create compositions that visually communicate my subject's unique perspective based on his life experience. To do this, I contacted my high school classmates to discuss how the challenges we’ve faced have impacted our goals and then photographed them in my hometown of Pine Bluff, AR, for use as references.
Black people are responsible for how the world perceives us and we’re forced to take ownership over problems that the system creates. Therefore, I show the sitter deep in thought, problem-solving issues that society has imposed on us. I obscure perspective to show how the policies and rules of institutions hinder our agency. By working so closely with my subjects and portraying them so intimately, I aim to undo false narratives that have been perpetuated by society.
For more of the artist's work, follow him on Instagram.