How We Got Over: An Icon of True Patriotic Devotion

Mark Dukes

Berkeley, CA

Artistic Disciplines:
Visual Art

Artist Statement:



"How We Got Over: An Icon of True Patriotic Devotion" deals with the underlaying cultural tension and existential crises of American history and is inspired by the culmination of a true American triumph: the election of the first black American president. This event has in turn inspired many cultures from all over the world. This painting and the larger project it comes from is a convergence of the ideas of the American past that skews the perspective of the American present. Much of the tension in the painting comes from the intersection between the stereotype and the archetype and this rich overlapping of message and meaning.  It is about crossing over historic cultural obstacles and ideas that still linger and can still hinder. Even stylistically the artwork brings together certain elements that don't usually share common ground, namely, the devotional and folk aspects of Serbian religious iconography (the prototype was a traditional icon from Serbia depicting the Madonna and child) and the delicate craftsmanship of late Byzantine era and the early Italian renaissance (especially the gold gilding technique and fine filigree style design work on the gold) These elements are combined with American symbols, cultural stereotypes and certain aspects of American history to create an unnerving tribute to black American endurance and hope in America..This icon is about American culture on the crossroads of realizing its most cherished ideals and attempting to overcome the scars of its past.


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