30 Under 35 2019

Raque Ford Embraces the Unconscious

Elizabeth Karp-Evans

Photography by Aubrey Mayer

Raque Ford
Raque Ford in her Brooklyn studio, 2018.

Raque Ford’s abstract yet personal work often straddles the line between painting and sculpture, with elements of performance dancing along the periphery. Whether observing her artwork as painterly sculptures or paintings with sculptural elements, her 2- and 3D pieces engage viewers deeply, exploring narratives of female identity through constant juxtaposition: hard vs. soft, masculine vs. feminine, color vs. black and white. A better conjunction than “vs.” may be “and.” In Ford’s welded steel chains—which hint at violence as much as they do fine jewelry—and bright brushy palettes moving seductively across laser-cut acrylic surfaces, we are privy to the gamut of human emotion. “I think I struggle with balancing the desire to be uninhibited and being way too self-conscious. You can see that in my work,” Ford says.

Carolyn, 2017, on view at Shoot the Lobster, NY. Courtesy of the artist.

Ford was the recipient of a 2017 Tiffany Foundation Grant and is a visiting professor at Virginia Commonwealth University. On the horizon is an artist book with her writing and plans to make a large acrylic dance floor piece similar to her Karafun (2017) and Karafun 2 (2018) installations that see a combination of vivid acrylic surfaces patchworked across the floor, punctured by narrative etchings. The pieces are reminiscent of Adrian Piper’s mesmerizing Funk Lessons (1983), asserting the dynamism and personality black culture has contributed to American music and dance. As sculptures, they are “unself-conscious yet intuitive,” seemingly delicate yet able to withstand the weight of the audience—just like the artist.

con·fi·dence, 2017. Courtesy of the artist.