Charles McGill is a multidisciplinary artist whose roots are based in painting.
The majority of his work falls under the auspices of what the artist refers to as “The Artifacts from the Former Black Militant Golf and Country Club,” a conceptually-based body of work that incorporates golf objects—mostly golf bags—into statements that explore race, politics, sex, and class. In his practice, McGill uses found objects, graphic design, performance, essays, photography, appropriation, digital arts, collage, and assemblage to create an array of golf and race-related objects infused with satire and sociopolitical digs. Club Negro, Baggage, Arthur Negro I & II, FBMGCC, and SKINNED all represent series from his oeuvre.
For over 15 years, McGill has wrestled with the golf bag, which he finds to be “a very political object due to its historical associations with class in equality and racial injustice.” As such, the way in which the materials are transformed is an important part of McGill’s process. Assembling the scraps and chunks into the final artwork requires the same adeptness and efforts required at the start of each piece.
McGill has exhibited in numerous galleries and museums, including the Wadsworth Atheneum, Lehman College Art Gallery and the Boca Raton Museum of Art. He has been awarded grants from the Joan Mitchell Foundation, Pollock-Krasner Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts and Art Matters, and was a Fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and Artist in Residence at the Museum of Arts and Design. McGill is an Assistant Professor at Borough of Manhattan Community College in New York City and is currently preparing for his upcoming exhibition, Temporal Presence at The Riverside Galleries at Garrison Art Center. McGill is represented by Pavel Zoubok Gallery in New York.
How did you find yourself in the arts, or how did the arts find you?
Creativity has always been a part of my life from the time I was a child taking arts and crafts at the boys’ club. I’ve always gravitated to people and places that were creative, so I think I sought out creativity as opposed to it finding me.
Who has been an influence in your career?
My family have always been great cheerleaders for my work and career. My sister’s home is a virtual museum of my work. She has work of mine from when I was 13 years old right up until recently. I’ve had great teachers, too. Teachers can be profound influences. I hope I’ve been that with some of my students.
When you hit a creative block, how do you move forward?
I don’t force myself to work through a period where it seems the creative juices aren’t flowing. I’d rather jump on my motorcycle and ride. I don’t go to museums looking for inspiration. I have a pretty full life and art is a part of it, a big part of it but not the primary part. So if I have a creative block, I focus on other areas that bring me as much satisfaction. I live to hike too and I live along the Hudson River and that makes being outdoors easy and gratifying. Fresh air is always good for unblocking creative congestion!
What legacy do you hope your work creates?
I’ve always wanted my work to be a strong alternative to the status quo in the creative realm of race and representation. I think I’ve always had a unique and original point of view when it comes to looking at race and I trust that creative decisions I make reveal a unique perspective. I hope my work communicates.
How do you define success?
I’ve always defined success by the achieving of one’s own personal goals. Not something that requires validation or acknowledgment from some other source.
In our creative world there are galleries we want to be represented by, and grants and fellowships we’d like to get, and desirable positions in education, etc. If a person sets their sights on achieving personal goals and is fortunate enough to realizing those goals then I think that defines success. If recognition follows and others are able to read about your work in a magazine or see some work at a gallery or museum, then that may define success for them about you.
Temporal Presence, Charles McGill
March 18 – April 9, 2017
Public Reception: Saturday, March 18, 5-7pm
Location: The Riverside Galleries at Garrison Art Center
About the Show
Relating to time and space, Temporal Presence explores the way Charles McGill’s work can be perceived in the past, present, and future. Using deconstructed vintage golf bags, McGill’s assemblages take viewers on a journey through a suggestive narrative. Depending on one’s own experiences, the pieces in this exhibition successfully spark discussion around themes of struggle, physical endurance, race, and history. Landing beyond the preconceived notions associated with the materials incorporated in each construction, Temporal Presence embodies a diverse range of thoughts and territories.
See more of Charles’ work at charlesmcgillart.com.
Photos by Charles McGill and Pavel Zoubok Gallery, New York.