ALFONZO MORET, Artist Statement 2013

I work in mixed media painting, writing and art installation.

I have lectured at UC Berkeley, San Francisco Art Institute, and College of Arts and Crafts. I have an M.F.A. in Video Art, Film History, and Mixed Media from the University of California San Diego.

I was born in Los Angeles California, and raised in Watts; my family lineage is a mixture of Native American, African, Spanish, and French. My father was a jazz musician from Louisiana, and my mother a Black Cherokee from Oklahoma.

I am a priest of African based spiritual traditions (Ifa, Hoodoo, Tarot and Spiritualism).

In my early works the focus was deconstructing racial stereotypes of African Americans in films and media.

My last solo exhibit in 1992 titled “Speaking in Tongues” was based on the convergence of African spiritualism and Christian concepts, which manifested in the form of a Sanitaria house of worship. This exhibit clearly challenged the viewing public at Saddleback College in Orange County. When the exhibit moved to Mesa College in San Diego it stimulated dialogue with the public regarding Voodoo faith and cultural myths.

More recently, my work investigates the connection between African-Native-Creole-Cajun spiritual ancestor worship.

In 2011, I presented a collection of paintings in an exhibition at San Francisco State University, called “Memoirs of Shadows.” In this work I began looking to my Ancestors who lived in St. Barnard Parish, and Baton Rouge Louisiana.

Macy Blackman playing piano

As a child I was told bedtime stories by my grandparents They called them “Swamp Fairy Tales,” which were rooted in an oral folk tradition. In their stories ravens were associated with black magic, shape-shifting beings, singing frogs, talking alligators, spirits who inhabited hallow trees, and lost ghost children who would come out of the swamps at night and play tricks on people. Their stories filled our minds and dreams with fear and mystery.

After the devastation of Katrina I had dreams of “Night Fishing” traveling back to the swamps in St. Bernard Parish with my Ancestors, looking for those mystical figures and animals that inspired fear and excitement in my Grandparents stories. I began creating these paintings by using found images of family photographs making them into collages.

I would re-assemble my family tree like a jig saw puzzle, interlocking pieces of history, elongating the mystical elements in the swamps of Louisiana, and juxtaposing African deities against Catholicism. For the work to appear as a solid construction, I glued the images in layers, and then drew the trees and landscape with inks and acrylic paint on the surface of the paper.

Macy Blackman playing piano

About the painting “Macy and the Gator Band Jamming in the Swamps

The concept for this painting began after seeing Macy Blackman and the Mighty Fines perform at different locations. The amusing aspect to the painting was turning the band members into reptiles with their instruments.

One band member Ken Jacobs known as “Snakebite” is represented as a Snake with human teeth around his neck, playing his sax. Macy Blackman is represented in creator form behind the keys, while Nancy Wright appears as the female white gator singer.