Fort Dodge, Iowa artist Madai Taylor presents a moving exhibition of sculptural works on paper from his series, An Elegy to America in Black and White, on view on the museum’s Amuse Bouche balcony gallery.
Layers of rich black dirt, cotton rope, and paint on roofing tar paper are the foundation materials used by Taylor to construct this stratified body of work. Using locally sourced soil and gypsum, he achieves a range of tones and textures. Although his images exist within the vocabulary of painting, the works have a strong sculptural aesthetic with visually complex surfaces and powerful symbolism. He calls his artistic process “primitive scripture.” The tactile accumulation of physical earth reveals a bold commentary on modern life built from religious faith.
Taylor felt compelled to create this series in response to the proliferation of senseless violence against young black men in recent years. He sees this as spiritual problem, as he explained, “Any Christian should see this is deeper than race — this is a spiritual issue. Because anyone that’s a Christian or promotes the love of God has to recognize regardless of race, inhumane treatment of any soul is not showing forth the love that Christ promoted.”
Taylor was born in Lake Village, Arkansas. In addition to working as a full-time artist, he is also the bishop at Agape Kingdom Dominion Ministries in Fort Dodge. He has exhibited extensively and worked in a curatorial capacity in Iowa, Idaho, Georgia, Illinois, and Arkansas.
Image credit: Madai Taylor, “The Black Holocaust,” (detail) 2016, Iowa earth on roofing paper, 48×48 in., collection of the artist