Awardee: Danielle Dean

Visual Arts, 2015

Danielle Dean is an Alabama-born, London-raised visual artist. Her work explores the colonialism of mind and body—the interpellation of thoughts, feelings and social relations by power structures working through news, advertising, political speech, and digital media. Dean focuses on processes of constructing and commodifying raced, gendered, aged and classed subjectivities through target-marketing practices. She is specifically interested in subverting such processes to both understand and shift them toward a non-essentialized space of being, blurring fiction, reality, subject and object.  Her exhibitions include, Focus at, The Studio Museum in Harlem, NY and Made in L.A. 2014 at L.A.’s, The Hammer Museum. Recent screenings include, Moma PS1, NY, and Vox Populi in Philadelphia. Dean’s resideincies include include the Houston’s Core Program, Msuem Fine Arts, Houston, TX (2016). The Whitney’s Independent Study Program. N.Y (2014). Dean received a a B.F.A from Central St Martins School of Art and M.F.A from California Institutre of the Arts, Los Angeles.

Project: Trainers, Part 2 (Vamps)

In 2003, Nike released a sneaker called "True Red,” which was marketed as a vampire sneaker. Trainers, Part 2 (Vamps) takes this shoe as a protagonists of a speculative vampire film set in the historic affordable housing community, Cuney Homes, in Houston Texas, which was first developed in 1938. Dean’s sister and her friends (who live in Cuney Homes) feature in the film in front of a castle set. A bright red, clip art style graphic of this sculpture is based on the colors of this shoe and design elements of the Elmina Castle in Ghana. Elmina castle was brought in a pre-fitted form, on a ship from Portugal in 1400 and set up on the coast of Ghana to house goods for trading and later slaves. The castle also takes an aesthetic cue from point of sale displays for products – in this case instead of promoting a product the pre-fabricated display will become the set for a speculative vampire film. This work will further Dean’s investigation into how advertising shapes subjects, and investigates our relationship to circulating objects.