This take on identity, a more nuanced one than is often proffered, is the product of an effort to combine his love of the United States and identity as an American artist with his Ethiopian roots. In seeking to marry the two cultures, rather than view them as two separate identities, he intends to present us with a new aesthetic.
“I think making art was something that once I was older was a no-brainer,” he remembers. “Once I had the chance to make work and find my voice, all I wanted to do was populate museums and galleries with images that people who look like me would feel comfortable looking at.”
With this new show Erizku is embracing his mission to improve the representation of black people in art. This can be seen most directly in his work HOW THAT MAKE YOU Feel? (2017), in which he has emblazoned an American flag with the Black Panther logo. By showing these two emotive symbols together, he makes them equal, then poses a question to the viewer, almost asking them how uncomfortable it makes them.