From the Heart: Paintings & Drawings by Waleed Johnson & Ron Scarbough through April 2, 2016
About Waleed Johnson:
Waleed Johnson is a recent graduate of the University of Notre Dame’s Dual Degree Program. Waleed graduated with a BS in Computer Engineering, a BA in Studio Art, and was selected as a 2015 Reilly Scholar— a special honor given to exemplary dual degree students at Notre Dame.
Waleed's concentration for his BA was painting. He received the 2015 Barbara H. Roche Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Painting as well as the Mabel L. Mountain Painting Prize at Notre Dame. Additionally, Waleed served as an officer of the Voices of Faith Gospel Choir for three years including serving as President in the ’14-’15 school year.
Although painting is his main focus, he also enjoys photography. In 2014, Waleed created a poster featuring buildings in Detroit, using photographs he had taken, that was displayed at the Detroit Historical Museum along with an accompanying postcard.
As a passionate native Detroiter, Waleed decided to return to his hometown after graduation to be a part of the ongoing change.
In Waleed's Words:
"My work primarily consists of portraits. There are few things I find as compelling as looking into the eyes of the person and attempting to see what they see and feel what they feel. Portraits can convey so much about a person; however, for every one thing a portrait reveals, there are countless things that remain unknown. My work is an attempt to get the viewer to realize this truth. The objective is presenting users with an image that may make some of them a little uncomfortable and then subsequently challenging them to assess their preconceived notions.
Black males, a group that is often looked down upon by society, are most frequently my subject. Scale is a key component of my work: the large scale monumentalizes the subject. The portraits offer a sly rebuttal to the viewer, looking down upon them, and returning the gaze so often used to judge them.
Current events and the personal experience of being a black man at a majority white university have significantly impacted the development of my work. Color and shadow are the principles relied upon in the creation of these paintings."
About Ron Scarbough:
The name and work of visual artist Ronald Scarbough is well known in the Detroit area. Ron, born in Detroit and the oldest of 11 children, started drawing in kindergarten. By the time he was in third grade, his teachers recommended that he take special art classes. His love for and interest in art grew, and he continued to develop his talent in high school. Ron attended the Center for Creative Studies (now the College for Creative Studies), where he started drawing children and decided that was what he liked best. However, he was drafted and served as a technical illustrator in the Air Force for four years. That was where he developed his fondness and respect for the pencil and cross-hatch technique.
After military service, Ron worked as a commercial artist but decided to devote his life to being a fine artist. He has exhibited his art in many states, had numerous one-man shows and participated in group shows. Ron captured first place at the Tripoli International Art Fair where he presented one of his works to King Idris of Libya.
Although his work has hung in galleries, Ron prefers exhibiting at fairs and street festivals where he can meet the people and "show them, especially younger black kids, they can be artists."
Ron has been profiled in magazine and newspaper articles and has appeared on local TV shows such as “Profiles in Black.” His prints can be found in numerous private residences and many Detroit schools. His original illustrations appear in books, one of which is called “Inside of Me.” Ron himself describes his pencil (sometimes ink) drawings as “Norman Rockwell type renderings with an ethnic mix.”