Rashaun Rucker‘s practice serves as an archive of Black culture as it intersects with myth vs. reality. In his series American Ornithology, Rucker records the lives of black men and the heavy challenge they face with racial bias and cultural conditioning. The series compares the life and origins of the Rock Pigeon to the stereotypes and myths of the constructed identities of Black men in America. Europeans introduced pigeons to North America in the 1600s around the same period that slavery commenced in what would become the United States. Brought to this country from elsewhere, the Rock Pigeon lacks a migration gene and, when taken away from its environment, usually returns home because of its familiarity with the ecosystem. American Ornithology contemplates how Black people were taken from their place of foundation and assigned a station in society within the colonized western hemisphere. Rucker’s work explores the constructed belief that one is only permitted in certain spaces that have been designed/designated based on racial stereotypes. Pigeons, similar to how many see Black men, populate urban landscapes and live off assistances (the system) — both viewed as vermin by some.

Image: Rashaun Rucker, I Stay Too Long, 2020. Graphite. 38 x 50 in. Courtesy of the artist.