Thank you for this opportunity to further the humanities and to advance human kind. I hope that I am a consideration for the largest award possible in that my intention is to use every nickel for that ultimate advancement and nothing less.
I, Jeffrey Michael Reid, swear on behalf of my name and namesake that the following records are true. Through this essay I plan to plainly show how the artistic encounters I've had have built a life's work leading up to, and including, my paintings.
I was born in 1960. In 1963, I got my first toy drum set. I later played for all of my school bands, in the church for at least twenty years, have been a studio drummer for various musicians, and at present am the house drummer for open-mike nights at a local hotspot, Subterranean.
While being a part of the music team at church in the past, I was able to befriend the Choir Members Sewing Circle Mothers Board. They instructed me how to use my walking foot, industrial, single-stitch Singer sewing machine whereby which I presented in two of their fashion shows. My most outlandish clothing outfits are made by me, including: coats, pants, dresses, unitards, and shirts across the bias. Not only I enjoy wearing these eclectic clothing items, but my best of friends do as well.
Being hyperactive from the age of three, my parents directed my excessive energy towards production. In addition to being given a drum set to beat on, I was afforded a large family hall by which to dance and perform in. I developed my dance style which I call "rapid acrobatic synthesis." At the ripe age of forty-seven, I still put on my roller skates, grab my five foot staff and perform an acrobatic dance medley to music.
My photography started at the age of eleven where at Camp Chi, I learned my first darkroom lessons. As a young adult I worked for the Chicago Journal and the Chicago Defender as a photographer because of my quick processing abilities due to having my own darkroom. While I was graduating high school in 1979, I took a special course at the Art Institute of Chicago in kinestasis animation. My films have been shown on the Public Broadcasting Station, HBO and at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.
After I graduated from undergrad, I started associating with painters, and they taught me how to paint including how to mix oils and stretch canvas. They taught me about pissage, stumbling, contrast and tonalities; and then I went to painting. I have been painting for more than twenty years now, with over one hundred paintings completed.
My love of experience in music, dance, clothing design, photography, and film making has brought me to the point of painting. Being a craftsman in each of these trades has led me to a more rich and unique approach of brush to canvas. My reason for painting has been like unto my filmmaking: the education of the masses on the particular time the world is now in. After reading and studying the King James Version of the Bible five times over, I'm convinced we're living in the last days. Based on this learning, I developed my artist's mission statement:
"The paintings are a representation of the coming end of this world or the beginning of the new world. Initially, the purpose of the nude women is to seduce one's curiosity, but they are actually angels at war or preparing for war. The shaped canvases are decorative sculpture additives meant to enhance the individuality and inventiveness of the art. As the end nears and wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, floods and pestilence occur on earth more frequently, I hope my work directs one's understanding of these signs of the end which will come with fire."
This was my statement of purpose for most of my work in film and painting, but the message was not affecting enough people to warrant showings. In my effort to uplift the world, I've changed my style to present the iconic encouragement of positive role models of our time and times including the Shroud of Turin, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King, Jr. to name a few. My ultimate aim is to introduce the art community and the world to my personal role models so that the end of this world will be a glorious beginning to the next.
Reid’s Portrait of an Idol
My portraits are not of divinities, nor are they used for worship services. This new work is about someone on whom the affections are strongly or often excessively set; a person greatly loved or adored. The majority of the collection is of dark -skinned people because of my personal affiliation. For reasons of the inaccurate depictions in film, news, and music, I consider my responsibility towards my brothers to be uplifting, informative, and suggesting reconsideration of our struggles to survive and flourish.
Attending the Art Institute of Chicago in a post-Baccalaureate film program, I was inundated with all types of artists: sculptors, filmmakers, painters, photographers, etc. Seeing that my film program was largely occupied by white South Africans along the same time as apartheid, I gravitated towards the painters, noticing that they had more parties and social functions. I can remember one party where a funny little man, T. J. Darwin, had the most exquisite true-to-life portraits from the World War II conflict: Dwight Eisenhower, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Hirohito, Stalin, Mussolini, and Hitler. Everybody at the party loved his work except for the Hitler portrait. They informed him that he shouldn't have done that one and an uproar ensued over this Hitler piece. I realized then the power of a painting.
At the age of three when my mother told me that my baby-sitter had died, I didn't understand. She assured me that I would see her again in heaven, and so I searched for heaven. I've read the Bible thoroughly and have become a follower of God. Through the years, my film-making, photography, writing, and painting have been God-conscience; apocalyptic pronouncements in particular. My apocalyptic paintings depict a nude figure, weapon in hand, lunging towards the viewer accompanied with a machine of war. Showing these nudes on the streets of New York after the towers fell, I was able to secure some points in Manhattan by which to show wherein I wouldn't be forced away. I was living in my van then, and when winter came I was unable to find a proper dwelling space. Thus, I moved back to Chicago and into the flat iron building. I believe paintings are to be seen by the masses, so I showed my apocalyptic paintings in my windows looking out onto Milwaukee Avenue. Community commotion commenced and I had to secure a First Amendment lawyer who released the following statement:
"From the Law Offices of Edward T. Stein
I am writing this letter to inform you that should you consider Mr. Reid's art or display in violation of any federal, state, or municipal laws, please consider the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. It is my considered judgment than any precipitous action will subject you to a lawsuit which could result in personal liability including loss of employment."
Though I've been able to show my past work, I haven't been able to sell my horrific views of the coming end. Therefore, I changed my emphasis from the end to the present uplifting icons of today. My present day idols are people I admire for their climb to the top and fortification of the bottom. These idols make it their just cause to use their celebrity influence and money to alchemize the injustice, poverty, and ignorance of the world.
In the past few years that I've lived at this store front space on Milwaukee Avenue, I've produced thirty, five by seven feet portraits of the people I look up to including Oprah Winfrey, Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Clinton, Halle Barry, Bill Gates, Bono, Barack Obama, Spike Lee, Abraham Lincoln, Shroud of Turin, Harold Washington, Martin Luther King Jr., Che Guevara, Nelson Mandela, Albert Einstein, Pope John Paul II, Princess Diana, Michelle Obama, Reverend Dr. Eric Dyson, Thurgood Marshall, Mother Teresea, Mahatma Ghandi, Michael Jordan, Malcolm X, Michael Jackson, Muhammad Ali, Mona Lisa, and the Obama family. I would like to continue in this vein of production seeing that I have a good opportunity of getting into the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. My one year of work has provided a front-page article in the Chicago Journal and an NBC news televised portrait segment. Continuing to paint in this location is very important to me, seeing that in has afforded me much success.
These painted images are not only for the masses, but also for me. They are a reminder of the greatness of humanity, throughout time and history that I personally strive for. I want people to look at this series and take on that strive for greatness themselves.
Forgive me for my indulgence into my past. I only present my experiences in art and the likes to convey my undivided commitment towards the production of positive communication in my particular spiritual compelling through creative expression. I hope this will be enough to make a positive decision towards the benefit of more art.