Derek Fordjour’s Art Stares Down Shared Fears and Vulnerabilities

Derek Fordjour sits among paintings in various stages of creation in September.IKE EDEANI FOR ARTNEWS

When Derek Fordjour conjured the title of his new gallery show, “SELF MUST DIE,” it took him some time to understand all that it might evoke. He was thinking about his 22-year-old son in school at Morehouse College in Atlanta. “When everything started with the protests, I remember seeing these kids being tasered and dragged out of their car,” Fordjour said. “I remember the fear of knowing he’s out there and that that can happen.” Then he thought of his father, who is 76—“four years above the average life expectancy for an African-American man in America.”

Then Fordjour thought of himself, at 46—the same age as George Floyd and right “in the middle of these polarities where the danger is.” As he considered his fate and the susceptibility of his family and friends, he came to recognize the many ways that mortality and “vulnerabilities only heightened by Covid really centered death as a starting point of the show.”

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