Ross Bleckner Recalls the Emotional and Artistic Impact of Africa
Ross Bleckner received his Bachelor of Arts degree from NYU and his Master of Fine Arts degree from the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia California. He is well-known for his large-scale paintings in the art world and his works have been shown in esteemed public collections throughout the world, including MoMA, MoCA, Astrup Fearnley, Museo National Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Mr. Bleckner is also recognized as the youngest artist ever to have a solo exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
In addition to Mr. Bleckner's works, he has taught at many of the nation's most prestigious universities. Additionally, he is president of Community Research Initiative on AIDS (CRIA), a non-profit community-based AIDS research and treatment education center.
Question: What part of your experience in Uganda affected you the most?
Bleckner: My overall reaction to the program and to that part of the world was, emotionally, very overwhelming. I mean, I was expecting it to be difficult but, you know, there’s a lot you see, you know, there’s a lot of children who have been really victims of atrocity. And it’s sad and… You know, but the people are wonderful. And I think that the work that the kids did and when I was surprised by… And… Which actually kind of gets to the heart of what it is to be an artist is the amazing optimism in the face of so much brutality. The amazing courage and the generosity and the optimism of these kids that’s in their work, that was in the work and the joy that they had and kind of reframing their experience in positive terms. So that, to me, was very encouraging. And, you know, it kind of is, to me, an extension of what being an artist means.
The painter can never forget the optimism of the children he met in Africa.
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