As a child in Omaha, Angela Drakeford was bullied for being “too white” in her largely African American neighborhood, and then for being “too black” in the mostly white schools to which she was bussed. As an artist, Drakeford takes inspiration from the many harsh utterances she heard all her life—both privately and publicly—that reveal the sometimes sublimated bias and prejudice in our society.
She works obsessively to “push” materials to extremes in order to connect with a viewer. Craftsmanship and beauty are essential tools in Drakeford’s work. In Self Portrait II, the artist uses black tar paper, a utilitarian and “ugly” material with toxic properties, to craft hundreds of elegantly shaped flowers. Their mass is framed in simple poplar strips—a jarringly inelegant box that might suggest either a garden fence or a coffin. Drakeford’s work seduces with its beauty and confronts us with its social commentary.