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Mark Steven Greenfield: HALO



Saturday, 30 April 2022 to Saturday, 9 July 2022
Saturday, 30 April 2022 - 5:00pm to 8:00pm

Santa Monica, CA - William Turner Gallery is pleased to present, Halo, an exhibition of exquisite new work by Mark Steven Greenfield.

Halo presents an amazing cast of historical black figures, most of whom were legendary and mythic characters in their time, but have been nearly lost to the vagaries and biases of history as seen through a white lens. With Halo, Greenfield brings the stories of Black folk-saints, martyrs, freedom-fighters, survivors, magicians, and visionaries back into view. Many of the figures are from the 1400-1800s, a timeframe that corresponds with Europeans beginning to use racial distinction as a tool to justify slavery. Greenfield honors their simultaneously disturbing and astounding lives by bestowing them with halos, traditionally seen as reverential symbols of adoration and respect. “I am reimagining what a saint is,” Greenfield says. “Maybe in studying their stories, they can inform us on better ways to live.” Halo is a rich representation of the complexities of the historical Black identity. The figures in the paintings emerge from a variety of geographic locations, time periods, stages of life and levels of freedom - each representing a person who was nearly blotted out from written history despite their incredible feats of attributed miracles and accomplishments.

This striking new series evolved as a natural progression from Greenfield’s previous exhibition, Black Madonna, which re-imagined the unique religious icons of a black Virgin Mary and baby Jesus in ways that spoke to the moment. They made their sensational debut at the gallery in the fall of 2020. Halo continues in the Byzantine style of the Black Madonna icons, presenting us with fascinating historical figures, rendered in rich detail and set in circular tondo’s. The lustrous gold leaf backgrounds, like the halos, seek to elevate the figures to a more hallowed stature. Throughout his career, Greenfield's work has dealt with elucidating the African American experience - examining stereotypes and other acts of oppression, often by illuminating the most oppressive of acts - those of omission. Halo presents us with powerful images of figures and events neglected by history. Greenfield's images like those of Rebecca Cox Jackson, Solitude of Guadalupe and Zumbi dos Palmares, compel us to learn their stories. 

Of the subjects in this series, Zumbi dos Palmares (1655 – 1695) is perhaps one of the best known. Zumbi was a pioneering Afro-Brazilian resistance leader and today a symbol of liberation from Brazil’s Portuguese colonists. Thought to be a descendent of central African royalty, he became a military leader to a ‘quilombo,’ or self-sustaining community of escaped slaves referred to as ‘Maroons.’ This exhibition feels uncannily destined for this moment. It opens at a time of unprecedented upheaval, where continuing racial inequities, and a global pandemic, have challenged our institutions, and our perceptions of them, to the core. With Halo, Mark Steven Greenfield brings an important and timely perspective to the discussion.

Artist ( Description ): 


Mark Steven Greenfield is a native Angelino, and son of a Tuskegee Airman, which led to spending the first part of his life abroad, living on military bases from Taiwan to Germany, until returning to LA at the age of ten. In high school Greenfield studied with revered Los Angeles artist, John T Riddle. Riddle quickly noted Greenfield’s talent, but saw that he was vulnerable to the influences and dangers confronting black youth at thetime. Riddle remarked, "You could be a pretty good artist....if you live that long.” This got Greenfield’s attention and set him on the path that would define the course of his life.

Greenfield went on to study with Charles White, at Otis Art Institute, and received his Bachelor’s degree in Art Education in 1973 from California State University, Long Beach and a Masters of Fine Arts degree in painting and drawing from California State University Los Angeles in 1987.

This year, Greenfield’s work was the subject of a 20-Year retrospective at the Museum of Art & History in Lancaster, CA, from which the The Crocker Museum of art acquired a piece for their permanent collection.

Greenfield’s work has been exhibited extensively throughout the United States most notably with a comprehensive survey exhibition at the California African American Museum in Los Angeles in 2014, and in 2002 at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia. Internationally, he has exhibited at the Chiang Mai Art Museum in Thailand; at Art 1307 in Naples, Italy; the Blue Roof Museum in Chengdu, China; 1333 Arts, Tokyo, Japan; and the Gang Dong Art Center in Seoul, South Korea.

Greenfield is a recipient of the L.A. Artcore Crystal Award (2006) Los Angeles Artist Laboratory Fellowship Grant (2011), the City of Los Angeles Individual Artist Fellowship (COLA 2012), The California Community Foundation Artist Fellowship (2012), the Instituto Sacatar Artist Residency Fellowship in Salvador, Brazil (2013) , the McColl Center for Art + Innovation Residency in Charlotte, North Carolina (2016) and Loghaven artist residency in Knoxville, Tennessee in 2021. He was a visiting professor at the California Institute of the Arts in 2013 and California State University Los Angeles in 2016.

From 1993-2011, Greenfield worked for the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs as director of the Watts Towers Arts Center, and later as director of the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Barnsdall Park. He has served on the boards of the Downtown Artists Development Association, the Armory Center for the Arts, the Black Creative Professionals Association, the Watts Village Theatre Company and was past president of the Los Angeles Art Association/Gallery 825. He currently teaches drawing and design at Los Angeles City College, and serves on the board of Side Street Projects, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibition (LACE) and the Harpo Foundation. WILLIAM   

Venue ( Address ): 

2525 Michigan Ave. E-1, Santa Monica, CA 90404

William Turner Gallery , Santa Monica

Other events from William Turner Gallery

Andy Moses: Recent Paintings
09/09/2023 to 11/11/2023
04/08/2023 to 05/27/2023
Julian Lennon: ATMOSPHERIA
02/18/2023 to 04/01/2023
Alex Couwenberg: SuperGlide
12/10/2022 to 02/11/2023



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