Joan Mitchell Center AIR Program

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Bruce Davenport Jr.

New Orleans, LA
2010 Painters and Sculptors Grant Recipient

Artist's Statement

I’m a native New Orleanian who grew up in the Lafitte public housing projects in the Sixth ward. I started drawing stick men at the age of five as a means to entertain myself inside the apartment where my loving grandparents, James and Maritha Abrams, raised me. Without their love & discipline I wouldn’t be here today.

The art I create is unique; it’s different like Egyptian hieroglyphics. I call my creations “Bruce Art” because no one else does what I do with a pen & paper. I enjoy that people love Bruce Art!

I’m mostly known for my drawings of New Orleans public school marching bands: The marching bands are a passion to me. I love the history and culture. Without the band, a lot of kids wouldn’t have a reason or make the effort to graduate from high school and go on in life to achieve goodness and stay focused.

Marching bands are a big part of New Orleans’ culture, but since Hurricane Katrina, many are struggling, especially high school bands. My work serves as an illustrative reminder of an activity that not only encourages creative thought processing, but also engages youth with their community and with each other.

Using photographic documentation of these bands in action, I recreate their vibrant pageantry with Sharpie pens and color acid-free markers on poster-board or paper in the same visual manner as Egyptian hieroglyphics, hopefully leaving behind a sacred reminder of a vibrant part of my hometown’s identity. I keep the FAITH! God is good all the TIME!!

  • A 6th Ward Hero, A New Orleans Legend!!, 2011, acid free paper, archival ink, colored markers, 24 x 30 inches.

  • A 6th Ward Hero, A New Orleans Legend!! (detail), 2011, acid free paper, archival ink, colored markers, 24 x 30 inches.

  • Kingpen & His Daughter, 2011, acid free paper, archival ink, colored markers, 24 x 30 inches.

  • Now I'm a Artist, 2011, acid free paper, archival ink, colored markers, 24 x 30 inches.

  • I am a Beast with a Pen & Paper U Heard Me, 2011, acid free paper, archival ink, colored markers, 24 x 30 inches.

  • The Harder The Crawl, Brighter The Crown, 2011, acid free paper, archival ink, colored markers, 24 x 30 inches.

All works are copyright of the artist or artist’s estate.