Michael Ray Charles

Michael Ray Charles

Michael Ray Charles was born in 1967 in Lafayette, Louisiana. Charles graduated from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana, in 1985 and received an MFA degree from the University of Houston in 1993. Charles lives in Texas and teaches at the University of Texas at Austin. His graphically styled paintings investigate racial stereotypes drawn from a history of American advertising, product packaging, billboards, radio jingles, and television commercials. Charles draws comparisons between Sambo, Mammy, and minstrel images of an earlier era and contemporary mass-media portrayals of black youths, celebrities, and athletes—images he sees as a constant in the American subconscious. In each of his paintings, notions of beauty, ugliness, nostalgia, and violence emerge and converge, reminding us that we cannot divorce ourselves from a past that has led us to where we are, who we have become, and how we are portrayed.

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