This month’s featured artist, Sanford Biggers, is a New York City-based multidisciplinary artist who defies categorization. There is hardly a medium that Biggers has neglected to experiment with, boasting an oeuvre that includes sculpture, painting, mixed media, performance art, conceptual art, and film. Mr. Biggers, however, has not limited himself to the visual arts. As the lead and keyboardist of the multimedia concept band Moon Medicin, he also operates as the creative director, putting together performances in collaboration with other musicians featuring backdrop images of “sci-fi, punk, sacred geometry, coded symbology, film noir, minstrels, world politics, and ceremonial dance.”
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Biggers received his master’s from the Art Institute of Chicago with a specialization in painting, before landing in New York City in 1999 to complete an artist residency at Harlem’s Studio Museum. Place is an important notion in his work, as he draws from his experiences of growing up in Los Angeles, teaching English in Japan, and spending a large part of his adult life in New York City. Biggers’ work in general is an act of “material storytelling” that employs motifs related to his concerns with the Black experience, violence in America, Buddhism, and the narrativization of the cultural and political history of the United States.
Sanford Biggers is perhaps best known for his conceptual installations, such as “Blossom” and “Laocoön,” both of which address the violence perpetrated towards black bodies in America. His revolutionary alterations of antique American quilts, two of which are part of the Clark Collection, are embedded within their historical context as symbols that carry hidden meaning (a nod to their alleged use marking safe homes for the Underground Railroad) but are also, by their very nature, bodily and intimate.
While Mr. Biggers imbues his work with his own understandings that are tied to the process of creation and not necessarily the “finished product,” it is his philosophy that it will be the task of the future generations to make meaning of his work.