america art and culture

Let's Fund a Gofundme: Meet Ronnie Boykin

Thursday, December 15, 2016 HALFSTACK MAGAZINE

The state of the world that we live in currently is confusing.  Everywhere we turn we hear about violence, heart ache and war. Many people are at a point where they are frustrated, angry and want change. Yet, it feels as if no change is in sight. The current news as it relates to President Elect Trump is troubling, frightening and it has put many, especially minorities on high alert.  News outlets share false narratives and the reality of the world we live in is skewed in this digital age.

Images Courtesy of Ronnie Boykin Jr.
It can be difficult to witness, participate and be a part of this world as an artist. Often, when one looks back at history, evolution and renaissance are often experience through the artists of era. We listen to the worlds of the music, we look at the imagery in the art, photos and are able to get a better understanding of the essence of what the people were facing during those times. Artists are the documentarians, the historians and yet - it is often those very artists who are least supported in modern day culture. It is the artist that is on the outskirts intently creating, paying attention and drawing inspiration from the world around them - both good and bad. 

Ronnie Boykin is one Chicago artist who has been deeply affected by the world around him. He is utilizing his talents in graphics, photography, art and film to add his voice to the current creative collective of the world. His recent project: "The Chain of Perception in Black America” is the completion of a journey undertaken to visually display the distortion of truth that we are witnessing today. In the words of Ronnie, "What we believe to be true isn’t always correct."

Ronnie explains that. "Social media provided an element of inspiration. The disrespectful attitudes and nonproductive thoughts shared - we need to change the conversation. It became apparent that a shift in the perspective from what we think we know is required. The perception of others isn’t enough to facilitate change among our culture. That aspect of reality is what I wish to represent." 

He took sometime to talk with Halfstack about this project and Gofundme Campaign. Keep reading for the full interview.

1. Can you share a bit about yourself, what you do and your creative journey?
I am an upcoming artist from Chicago. My creations evolve from various perspectives; graphic design, painting, illustrations and photography. I've been doing art all my life, it's what I'm passionate about and enjoy doing. What inspires my creative endeavors are Black folks and our environment; social issues, politics and daily life. I graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a BFA, June 1996 majoring in Art & Film. I've worked for Gallery 37, a program dedicated to teaching urban kids to create art, as both a student artist (Summer 1991-1993) and a teaching assistant for an After School Program at Westinghouse High School, Chicago through Gallery 37.

2. Can you tell me about this most recent project you are working on and what it means to you?

The Chain of Perception in Black America is a photo series project that touches upon the subject matter of how we, Black people have these perceptions about ourselves within our race. Social media provided an element of inspiration. I've read comments from different posts on folks pages and group pages speaking on particular issues regarding Black people and let me say it was overwhelming. Black people already have an idea of the perceptions that other races have made about ourselves, but what disturbs me is that I don't think we know what we say, think and feel about our own. And for those that are aware, doesn't seem to me that we try hard enough to break ourselves from these perceptions and how it has become a heavy weight on our shoulders and a burden, hence the name of the project. I truly feel that this particular subject should be addressed. The perception of others isn't enough to facilitate change among our culture and the reality of that is what I wish to represent.

The series consists of images I photographed of everyday Black folk with chains wrapped around their wrists. The models were to give me a variation of poses with facial expressions and gestures depicting any of the various emotions; anger, frustration, pain, disbelief, sadness and stress. The images I captured were to be combined with statements and quotes gathered regarding perceptions of self and one another within the Black community.

3. What are you trying to do with this project and what kind of impact are you hoping to make?

What I plan on doing with this is turning this series into a photography book and would like to hold exhibits nationwide to bring folks attention to the subject matter that I am presenting. Every photo has a story. I want my audience to acknowledge what is felt and how the images and statements made them think about the subject matter being presented. "The Chain of Perception in Black America" is a project I hope will bring awareness to the perceptions not only expressed by other races, but more importantly within the Black community itself.

4. Can you tell me more about this Gofundme campaign, what are the goals behind it? How will it be a game changer for this project?

The purpose behind creating the gofundme campaign for this is to raise money for materials needed for completion to help me bring this project to life. Funding for this project will be utilized in the printing of these images, advertisements, posters, studio and equipment rental. i don't know how this would be a game changer, but it will help me reach my goal towards completion.

5. What is the creative climate like in Chicago, how has it helped or hindered you as an artist? 

It's hard for me to summarize how the creative climate is like in Chicago. Chicago is complex, it has its good and bad side. Chicago can show you the beauty that it possesses but it also shows you the ugliness as well. For me, this city has given me some inspiration to my creative process to present different subject matters regarding to daily life within the Black community.
6. Have you faced any obstacles on this journey? If so, what and how have you overcome? 

I think one of the hardest obstacles I've faced during my creative journey is developing a way for my art to be my voice. I like to consider my art as a visual journal, rather than writing words to express my thoughts, ideas and experiences I chose art as a visual tool to do so. My art is a reflection of me and my surroundings. 

7. Have there been any mentors you have connected with or other artists you look up to that have impacted your journey?

There have been other artists that have had an impact on me, but my biggest impact and inspiration comes from my family and friends. The stories they've told, experiences that they've had, their struggles, pain, heartaches, achievements, etc., have been a major influence and impact to what I create.

8. What kind of advice would you give a creative just starting out on their journey?

My advice to any artist coming up is to love what you do. Embrace and be passionate about your craft. When you do that, it will show in the work you create, it will fuel your creative instincts and you'll discover ways that can help you enhance and develop your craft more. There will be times that you'll be frustrated, every artist goes through that but overcoming that frustration and continuing to do what you love no matter what the cost shows that you are dedicated to what you do.

9. Finally, where can we learn more about you, your work and donate to your campaign?

Right now I'm in the process of building my website that will feature my work but you can find out more about me and to see some of my work at And to donate and see some samples from "The Chain of Perception in Black America" project, go to Share with your fellow peers and please donate what you can, your support and donations are appreciated.

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