The phenomenon of Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign for the presidency each day seems to bring out young people with creative ideas.
This is exactly what Obama admirer and art designer Curtis Ray Noland is doing. Noland is a “unofficial” Obama artist who has began his own campaign. Ray Noland is now starting to catch the attention of folks, and from Feb. 8-10, his artwork was displayed on Chicago’s West Side at 2421 W. Madison St. The title of his show is “Go Tell Mama”, an independent political art campaign in support of Barack Obama.
He’s sold one poster to the Obama campaign, but as people see his unique work, orders are placed right away.
One of his pieces depicts the Edmund Pettus Bridge from the civil rights days, showing silhouetted figures arm-in-arm marching. One side of the silhouettes are of the Clinton’s and the opposite end has Obama. Another poster shows Obama’s face with the words “The Dream.”
The Austin Weekly News talked with Noland on Saturday at one of his displays.
AWN: How did you begin this work?
Noland: “I was spending a lot of time recovering last year after a bike accident. I had a lot of time to think, having gone through a devastating situation. When you get hurt bad you really have to stop your life. It gives you a lot of time to think about where you are and where you want to go. I felt like I had a second chance and really wanted to do something that [had an impact]. At the same time, I was really hearing a lot about Barack Obama in the media in November 2006. They were talking about the potential of him running, so I started reading his book The Audacity of Hope, and I just started to see the potential of where he could go.”
AWN: Are you a native of Chicago?
Noland: “I was born here. I actually attended St. Malachy. My mom’s a teacher – she taught at Nathaniel Dett. We were here until the winter of 1979 and my family moved to Alabama down south. My parents were part of the black migration moving back south. I came back to Chicago in 1991 to attend the Art Institute.
AWN: Does the Obama campaign know you have this artwork going on?
Noland: “Yes, they are fully aware of it. When I started this I didn’t really know the laws involved. So there are federal election laws that governed how they can participate with me. They can’t publicly endorse me because it would look like they are paying me.”
AWN: Is this your studio location?
Noland: “This isn’t my studio. This is actually part of a series called Phantom Gallery. Phantom Galleries was started in Chicago by a woman named Alpha Bruton. Her concept was to invite artists to do art shows in vacant store fronts in Garfield Park. So this location is all part of the revitalization. They are building these new condos. The second and third floors are apartments and the first floor are all store fronts. They invite artists to come down because, you know, artists help kind of revitalize the neighborhoods. They selected 12 artists to submit and show works, so I was here for three days.”
The Phantom Gallery art series, co-sponsored by The Greater Garfield Park Chamber of Commerce, runs it’s Black History Month exhibits the month of February. For more information about the gallery, call Alpha Bruton at 773/628-1217, ext. 3.