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Born in Nassau, Bahamas, artist Lavar Munroe spent most of his life surrounded by the ghetto. Following the tradition of the Harlem Renaissance, Munore’s work seeks to challenge racial divides by reclaiming and redefining the role of the African American through culture and art. Borrowing imagery of gods and goddesses, the figures of Munroe’s new polytheistic canon absorb negative stereotypes of African Americans, unfettering limited notions of conventional identity toward a new racial consciousness.

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“Having lived a life in the ghetto for over twenty years, I have retained knowledge and learned a language that validates and supports my research. For many, ghetto is defined as a place where the norm is a life of criminality and the exclusion of the “world” outside of its boundaries.”

Using found materials directly from the Bahamian ghettos, his figures are materialistically grounded in poverty, but are not confined to it. “My work borrows from the notion of death and the animal, and I create deities that celebrate being black and of the ghetto.”

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Munore’s work also addresses the ethical problems facing lower socioeconomic areas. In his series Bed Colony, Munroe explores the poetics of marginalization and neglect by using found materials such as cardboard and waste to create beds. Similar to artists such as Tracey Emin, Munroe engages the viewer on an intimate level by scattering hints of a human presence through human hair, pillows and personal effects. His beds serve to highlight the disparity that exists and awake our attention to the reality of our urban landscape and human suffering.

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Images courtesy of the artist