• Reading time:6 mins read

The Maryland Institute Black Archives includes 3 pieces on loan from artist and MICA alum, Gregory Gray. The 3 pieces are part of the artist’s Fragmentation/Integration series.

Gray has spent his entire professional career imagining, translating and manifesting visual concepts of desire for the national and international print media industry. His style is modern, intelligent and savvy. He incorporates his love of fine arts into this work and often references fine arts concepts. Gray has art directed numerous magazines in the United States and Europe, including Essence, Allure, Madame Figaro, Maison Madame Figaro and Elle. He also art directed major advertising campaigns, commercials and promotions for such well-known brands as Revlon, Bloomingdale’s, Target and Estée Lauder.  Ever expanding his creative universe, Gray invented Matisse, a font inspired by French Impressionist artist, Henri Matisse.  Designed for ITC, (International Typeface Corporation) Matisse (circa 1980s) pays homage to his Cut Outs, and their ability to create movement and mood with a very simplistic vocabulary of shapes and forms.  Matisse continues to be implored by graphic designers till today – an international success.

Artist Statement

Gregory Gray

MICA, BFA Graphic Design ‘76

I discovered I was different at the age of 4.9 years of age, my first day of kindergarten while dressed in a winter woolen onesie, I locked eyes on a little boy who toddled towards me. Soon after I was made aware that our attraction was not normal, I learned to hide myself. With every new encounter I learned to hide yet another part until most of me was hidden. Recently, my journey to retrieve the selves I’d hidden began a conscious process of reintegration. My artwork mirrors and facilitates my integration with every new discovery.  

This journey is the most revealing and satisfying of my life. The revelations and discoveries I’ve made have enlarged my appreciation of self while expanding the space I occupy mentally, simultaneously increasing my understanding of the complexities of the world as it struggles to find harmony in difference.

My works are not perfect, perfection is death leaving nothing to explore and much to be unhappy about.  I prefer the Japanese concept of Wabi Sabi, “beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.”  There is something about perfection, for me as a Black man, which contains the tenets and subtexts of white supremacy – an illusion of whiteness as divine, the erroneous, perverted desire to be God, to be perfect and infallible. 

I think a lot about my ancestors and cultures around the world that made beauty out of common everyday things.  I think and feel deeply about their creations – the simplicity and communicative power. In my youth, I was fascinated by cave paintings; man-made symbology and ways to communicate feelings through emotion-filled glyphs. Glyphs transcend language to communicate intuitively, emotionally and spiritually.

Art and design are my innate language and way of being, permeating everything that I do. I am fascinated by the creative spirit and how that spirit translates life into a visual truth based on the perceptions of the individual turned into a language of the soul.

My visual art crafts a language of symbols that communicate across cultures by storytelling; reducing complex ideas into picture graphs that speak to the essence of who we are. Like the first cave paintings, hieroglyphics and early architecture offer a chance to create out of our own imaginations instead of mimicking nature. I have always played with, and been fascinated by the communication of ideas through shorthand glyphs easily understood because they speak to a core humaneness we all share.

Synthesizing complex ideas into visual statements is an essential part of my work as a fine artist.  

Fragmentation/Integration began as a reaction to our liminal conditions – just after the pandemic hit, late March 2020. To date, there are 58 collages in the series. They are numbered in the order of completion to create a visual diary of my integration, as well as, a reminder of why I make work, to express what is often, inexpressible in any language except art.

The Maryland Institute Black Archives

by Deyane Moses

April 9 – May 01, 2021
Opening: Friday, April 9th, 7-9PM

Thursday, April 8th, 12-1 PM EST
LIVE Studio Visit with Gregory Gray, Hosted by Deyane Moses
IG LIVE @miba.online