Samuel Levi Jones Artist Statement

For the past eight years I have been using books ranging from encyclopedia, law, history, and medical in my artwork referencing struggles of power.  The paintings I create from this material are visually abstract.  The subject matter of agiven book material is used to reference these struggles.  The decision to use law books was in response to the destruction of black bodies by law enforcement and the failure of the judicial system to honor these individuals as humans deserving of justice.  Though visually abstract, titles given to works reference these traumatic events. However, this piece was a response to my instincts telling me to be more direct in the work.

Still Rising is the first representational work I have composed from book material, and the choice of a raised fist in this moment felt necessary.    It is an image seen more and more, nationally and internationally.  Individuals, such as Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton, have stepped up and used their platforms in this fight to improve human rights.  He started the racing season with a raised fist on his crash helmet, and I thought of him when I titled this work. Throughout the years I have wondered why more key figures do not use the power they have to demand social change, and it has been something special to see happen in 2020.

*Still I Rise is a phrase Lewis Hamilton has as a tattoo, and he explains it as motivation to rise above adversity.  He also references the phrase from a Tupac song and poem by Maya Angelou.