Vaughn Spann

Vaughn Spann Biography

Vaughn Spann (b. 1992, United States) lives in Maplewood, New Jersey and works in Orange, New Jersey.

The importance of the family and everyday reality take center stage in the work of Vaughn Spann. Influenced by his grandparents, Spann spent his childhood learning artisanal crafts, particularly the art of sewing, a skill shared in his family. Spann transforms terry cloth, silk, clay, acrylic, and spray paint, transcending these materials to produce canvases with crackling surfaces and vibrant colors whose delicate compositions oscillate fluidly between figurative and abstract modes. A graduate from the Yale School of Art, Spann first and foremost imbues a deep formal understanding of his process and materials within his works. His choices of iconography simultaneously have stimulated the discussion surrounding African-American art and the black experience in the United States through a generational perspective. His Marked Man series, for instance, featuring a rigorously composed X form in the center of the canvas, draws inspiration from his experience with racial profiling as a young man. Other series, such as his paintings of the American flag, contain strong autobiographical underpinnings wrapped in a symbol at once stoic and newly innervated by the artist. Meanwhile, his paintings of rainbows notably include a black stripe, acknowledging the omission of this color from typical representations of the symbol. Spann was awarded an Alice Kimball travelling fellowship in 2017, and has had solo exhibitions at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and the Samek Art Museum at Bucknell University. He has been included in exhibitions at The Bass, Miami, Florida; Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, Florida; Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, Alabama; and North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, North Carolina. His works are part of esteemed US and European private collections and are included in the public collections of the High Museum of Art, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Brooklyn Museum, North Carolina Museum of Art, Birmingham Museum of Art, Institute of Contemporary Art Miami, The Bass, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Perez Art Museum.

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