The Untold Renaissance. This collection pays homage to 18th century textiles and tapestries while exploring the absence of persons of color in Medieval and Renaissance-era European art. Borrowing from the sampling method employed in hip hop culture, each reinvented piece tells an original narrative from the perspective of Africans who have been placed in an alien context. Through this reverse lens to the past, the present circumstances of individuals who feel displaced and alienated may also be considered.
Your series The Untold Renaissance is a remix and reimagining of the past. Tell us a little about the project, the inspiration behind it.
As someone who appreciates classic European fine art, I thought it was interesting that there are very few depictions of persons of color in art from that era. I decided to use artwork from that period to tell stories that featured Africans and their history. The project isn’t intended to look upon European art in a negative light, it’s just an alternate telling of history. Because much of the history of persons of African descent was not well-preserved (particularly in the United States), I think it is important for us to look for different ways to mine our heritage.
From Art Comes First, I see a different you, Street Etiquette.. there seems to be a burgeoning culture for African inspired menswear and fashion online. Why do you think this is so? Is this a new phenomenon? Why do you think it is very popular?
I don’t think there is anything new or novel about it really. This is just the result of the internet-age giving everyone a platform to express their art, and somewhat leveling the playing field. People who don’t see themselves represented in fashion magazines (or any media for that matter) don’t have to deal with it anymore. They can seek out the work of artists that speak directly to them.
Your textiles and fabrics are intricate and powerful, what drew you to have this sort of artwork on cloth?
I am a menswear enthusiast. As someone who enjoys clothing and intricately woven textiles, it occurred to me that there would be no point in starting my own brand unless I was using it as a vehicle to tell my personal story. I’m drawn to the idea of wearable art. Much of what people purchase and consume as clothing has a blind history. It comes packaged nicely, with no knowledge of where it comes from, who made it or what the manufacturer’s ethics are. I wanted to change that. Much-like people you meet, everything Ikiré Jones produces has a story and a past that has to be reckoned with.
What themes do you pursue? What is your vision or motivations for taking on these projects?
My work is about self-discovery. The more we personally explore who we are, the better we can understand who we seek to become.
Your work spans many different mediums from fashion, textile, digital art, photography, illustration, do you work collaboratively with other artists? who?
I collaborate frequently with architect/designer Lekan Jeyifous (aka Vigilism.com) for the brand’s Afrofuture illustrations. I’ve also worked consistently with Photographer David Evan McDowell for fashion work.
What role do you think that the artist have in African society?
I imagine the artist in Africa has the same role as he does in any other society: to hold a mirror to the world around him.