André Ramos-Woodard Advocates for Black Liberation and Queer Justice

André Ramos-Woodard Advocates for Black Liberation and Queer Justice

André Ramos-Woodard (they/ them/ theirs) uses photography, text, illustration, and collage to spotlight the ramifications of racial and gender discrimination. Raised in Tennessee and Texas, Ramos-Woodard draws from the experience of growing up queer and African-American in the South. As an artist and activist, they strive to “push the narratives of Black people to the forefront” and “fight for equality for all working-class people on this planet.”

Not Real Art Artist Of The Day Series

Ramos-Woodard earned a BFA from Lamar University in Texas, and is currently in an MFA program at The University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Working with appropriated, altered, and original images, they are a fierce advocate for justice and social change. Ramos-Woodard’s recent series, BLACK SNAFU (Situation Niggas: All Fucked Up), got its name from “Private Snafu,” a series of cartoons made by Warner Bros to ‘educate’ American soldiers during World War II. By transposing cartoons onto photographs from personal experience, Ramos-Woodard calls out the inherent racism in the media and popular culture.

In BLACK SNAFU, I appropriate various depictions of Black people that I find throughout the cartooning of American history—from the 20th century racist characters in Don Raye’s “Scrub Me Mama with a Boogie Beat” to more contemporary, uplifting, and pro-Black characters like Huey and Riley Freeman from Aaron McGruder’s “The Boondocks”—and juxtapose them with photographs that celebrate and/ or line up more authentically with a (my) Black experience. These photographs in the pieces are made by my hand and come from my camera, allowing me fight back against the historical racist caricature illustrations that I reclaim for an authentic telling of Blackness. By combining these ambivalent visual languages, I intend to expose to viewers America’s deplorable connection to anti-Black tropes through pop-culture while simultaneously celebrating the reality of what it means to be Black.

Ramos-Woodard’s recent exhibition at the Kansas City Artist’s Coalition combined photographs, digital illustration, and text to addresses the gap between their perception of self versus how they are perceived by others, and its affects on their psychological health. Their work articulates what it feels like to be “pigeonholed” by “old white dudes” who either left Black people out of art history, and failed to include them in scientific and historical tomes, or portrayed them in a degrading and stereotypical manner. During an era of police violence, and assaults on people of color and members of the LGBTQ community, Ramos-Woodard sheds a stark light on the entrenched biases in American life.

Table of Contents

André Ramos-Woodard — Artist Statement

André Ramos-Woodard. Headshot.
André Ramos-Woodard

I’ve been told all throughout my time as an academic that in order to understand the present, I’ve got to know the history. I find that funny as a Black man born and raised in America. It’s not that I disagree—it’s just that I know that my history on this land, Black history, has been distorted and fucked-up in order to perpetuate the racist repercussions of European colonialism and white privilege in this godforsaken country.

Anti-Blackness seems inescapably mixed into whatever context I place it into; literature, science, government, health, art… look into any “field” and see for yourself. My people have had to cry, scream, and fight for respect throughout all these fields of study for centuries, and we still have not gained the rightful respect we deserve. In order to move past the damage this has done to our society, we cannot hide our history—we must recognize it. We cannot hide it because it cannot be erased. We must acknowledge the many ways in which this country has perpetuated a racial hierarchy since these lands were first colonized and stripped from indigenous peoples, and Black people were stolen from their native land and brought to America.

BLACK SNAFU (Situation Niggas: All Fucked Up), gets its name from “Private Snafu”, a series of cartoon shorts made in the 1940s by Warner Bros. in order to educate American WWII soldiers on the military and their warfare tactics. In BLACK SNAFU, I appropriate various depictions of Black people that I find throughout the cartooning of American history—from the 20th century racist characters in Don Raye’s “Scrub Me Mama with a Boogie Beat” to more contemporary, uplifting, and pro-Black characters like Huey and Riley Freeman from Aaron McGruder’s “The Boondocks”—and juxtapose them with photographs that celebrate and/ or line up more authentically with a (my) Black experience. These photographs in the pieces are made by my hand and come from my camera, allowing me fight back against the historical racist caricature illustrations that I reclaim for an authentic telling of Blackness. By combining these ambivalent visual languages, I intend to expose to viewers America’s deplorable connection to anti-Black tropes through pop-culture while simultaneously celebrating the reality of what it means to be Black.

André Ramos-Woodard – Grant Submission Work

André Ramos-Woodard, Buds, 2020
Buds, 2020
Digital illustration, chalk, and colored pencil on inkjet print
24 x 16 inches
Melodrama, 2020
Digital illustration and charcoal on inkjet print
24 x 18 inches
André Ramos-Woodard, Untitled (Amerikkkan Flag), 2021
Untitled (Amerikkkan Flag), 2021
Charcoal, chalk, marker, ink, graphite, colored pencil, ballpoint pen, cyanotype, dirt,
fire, and dog piss on flag
5 x 3 feet
André Ramos-Woodard, News, 2020
News, 2020
Digital illustration, charcoal, and Sumi ink on inkjet print
24 x 30 inches
André Ramos-Woodard, BL!NG, 2020
BL!NG, 2020
Digital illustration, chalk, colored pencil, and watercolor on inkjet print
40 x 27 inches

André Ramos-Woodard – Artist Bio

Raised in the Southern states of Tennessee and Texas, André Ramos-Woodard (they/ them/ theirs) is a contemporary artist who uses their work to emphasize the experiences of the underrepresented: celebrating the experience of marginalized peoples while accenting the repercussions of contemporary and historical discrimination. Working in a variety of media—including photography, text, and illustration—Ramos-Woodard creates collages that convey ideas of communal and personal identity centralized within internal conflicts. They are influenced by their direct experience with life as being queer and African American, both of which are obvious targets for discrimination. Focusing on Black liberation, queer justice, and the reality of mental health, Ramos-Woodard works to amplify repressed voices and bring power to the people. Ramos-Woodard received their BFA from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, and is earning their MFA at The University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

André on the Web And Social Media

Here is where to find out more about Ramos-W on the web and social media:

View Artist’s Talk at the Kansas City Artists Coalition

About the Artist of the Day Series

All artworks have been published with permission of the artist. Our "Artist of the Day" series is a regular feature highlighting artworks from the 100's of grant applications we receive. The "Not Real Art Grant" is an annual award designed to empower the careers of contemporary artists, and this is one way we honor all entries we receive. Find out more about the grant program here.


Tags

art, blackartist, blacklivesmatter, cartoons, fine art, illustration, LBGTQ, photography, Queer, racial equality, social activism


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