Irving’s artwork, and his individual expression through industrial materials, pushes against that history. He strives to participate in the world around him and rupture the stereotypes that perpetuate American—particularly African American—culture.
Look closely at Irving’s ornate ceramics, and you’ll find news items about cops acquitted after murdering African American men, labels of the St. Louis–produced Vess soda, a ruptured image of an American flag, and a miniature “Black Lives Matter” sign. The works become microcosms of contemporary concerns and consumerist culture, asking viewers to reconsider the world around them. Yet Irving also knows how difficult it is to alter perceptions, and he likened being an artist to throwing a rock. “That rock may fall short, that rock may go the distance, or it can go further than expected,” he said. “And then you walk behind it to pick it up again, and you keep walking, and that’s life.”