Titus Kaphar: History Refuses to Repeat Itself in Titus Kaphar’s CAC Exhibit

Article:  History Refuses to Repeat Itself in Titus Kaphar’s CAC Exhibit

(CIty Beat)

"In Latin, “vesper” means “evening star” or, more commonly, just “evening” — a junction of night and day. Although it refers to a surname in the Contemporary Arts Center’s new exhibit from Titus Kaphar, The Vesper Project, the word feels right at home. Polarities coexist at every turn in The Vesper Project, a culmination of the lost storylines of the Vespers, a 19th-century New England family who “passed” as white despite their mixed heritage, which made them “negro” in the eyes of the law.

Kaphar’s themes are lofty. Racial inequality, criminal justice, fractured identities and the way we traverse the fluxes of time, space and history are braided — sometimes literally — into his work. 

Broader cultural and social narratives play an important role. Take “The Jerome Project,” a series in which the artist creates layered portraits from mugshots of men who share his father’s name. 

In a poignant extension of this series, the faces of young men such as Trayvon Martin, Sean Bell, Michael Brown and others are layered on top of each other, like multiple exposures, in chalk on asphalt paper. It is a haunting critique of how society amalgamates these victims’ identities, but also a way to canonize young black men whose lives were stolen. 

In “Watching Tides Rise,” an oil painting of a sailboat adrift on a roiling sea of tar, Kaphar peels back a corner of his canvas to reveal the blank wall. The painting acts as a sort of succinct thesis, its wrinkles and warps reflecting an altered history in the exhibit that doesn’t necessarily expose any easy answers."   more at City Beat

Titus Kaphar, Finding Moses Taylor Collection Denver