John Alleyne

Region: South

My recent work is a meditation on the Black male experience. I challenge stereotypes of Black masculinity by presenting allegorical narratives in the aesthetic of the hairstyle-guide posters commonly found in Black barbershops. The individuals depicted in these posters tend to be anonymous, identified only by number. By borrowing these images, I hope to inspire young Black men to break with harmful conventions of representation and see themselves in their own individuality—as more than a number.

Using spray paint and silkscreen collage, I present complex textures reminiscent of urban walls and public surfaces. The works are also intended to replicate the energy and reverence of Baroque and Italian Renaissance paintings, and the weathered textures of Greek sculpture. Distortion of image and surface are used to de-stress stereotypes of the Black male, while simultaneously elevating representation to a state of transcendence. I place portraits of Black men and youth “sitting in barbershop chairs”—images that reveal moments of vulnerability, anxiety, and introspection that speak to their experience at large.