The Greenbelt

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Pratt Institute’s Fine Arts Department is pleased to announce the opening of Jamaal Peterman’s first Solo Thesis show: The Greenbelt. The exhibition showcases 8 works of mix media paintings and a single installation called Buy the Pound. The paintings explore how black bodies navigate through urban landscapes. 

District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia (DMV) inspires this body of work because he was brought up in Prince George County, Maryland. During his formal years in PG County, he was immersed in a culture of music, dance, and hustling. He discovered a lexicon particular to that region helping shaped the dialogue around the 8 works. Prince George County has established a legacy of black wealth from the early 1920’s to the present day. The DMV has hosted forms of safe passage and freedom from segregation in the Jim Crow south. It is now the host of the richest Black county in America. 

Through color, symbols, geometry, and spaces he questions the tangibility of access in relation to young Black males and other bodies alike. His paintings and installation highlight the separation of classes reinforced by commodities and wealth. By exploring the proximity of Black bodies throughout western history there is a misrepresentation through stereotypes he aims to deconstruct and neutralize. This is a reference to neutralizing harmful stigmas placed upon the lives that are affected by urbanity. The paintings visually break down the layers of code and conduct governing the mental state of African Americans living in urban environments. The flatly painted synthesized shapes form an abstract space that shapes the landscape literally and metaphorically. 

Through techniques formed by post-war geometric artist, he breaks down elements of social hierarchy within these synthetic spaces. Allowing the views to purely look at forms that govern the space and the identity that shapes the composition. He uses the geometric style to convey “ absolute reality” and the colors as a way to access the space designated for certain social classes. His symbols are designed to aid in marking time, history, and spaces that black bodies navigated and constructed new forms of identity. The framed structures along with the figures repairing and disappearing represent a temporal fractured moment of space. These elements break down how volatile it is to be a black body on display in relation to America’s brutal history on the mental traumas placed on the black physique.