The Huffington Post | By Priscilla Frank
Is it possible to be a shape-shifter while remaining strongly grounded at the same time? Robert Pruitt's crayon series, simply entitled "Women," shows such an existence is not just possible -- it is everywhere.
Pruitt's portraits of contemporary African American women incorporate science fiction, hip-hop, 1960s black power, comic book culture and a romantic allegiance to realism. Conjuring the cultural influences that construct identity, Pruitt presents feminine strength from the inside colliding with external forces to create a captivating and fantastical portrait.
Pruitt, who lives and works in Houston, Texas, uses Conté crayons as his medium of choice, a drawing material composed of charcoal and clay. His women, based on his friends and community members, enter a fantasy world somewhere between a music video, steampunk tutorial and colonial African exploration.
While cultural-infused portraitist Mickalene Thomas imbues her subjects with style, Afrofuturism and a cosmic sense of cool pervade Pruitt's portraits, tying the trends of the time to a greater sense of eternity. Although Pruitt's women occupy a shifting array of times, places, moods and modes, the strength in their eyes and bodies keeps them tethered to the ground beneath them.
Robert Pruitt: "Womem"
The Studio Museum in Harlem
July 18 - October 27, 2013