bio/artist statement


My paintings are presented on doors, inspired by a visceral experience I had while contemplating the concept of the "Door of No Return," the representational door that enslaved people passed through before being sent to the new world. My esteemed advisor, cerebral celebrated sculptor and father in law, Patrick Vilaire, told me on a trip to Haiti to follow my metaphor and start producing ideas on physical doors. I began dumpster diving in and around all five boroughs for discarded doors and turned trash into treasure, not a new idea to many who consistently turn our consumer waste into utilitarian items and even fine art. 

Traditionally one thinks of a door as a restraint or a barrier. I have been thinking of them as a gateway, portal, vestibule, or a threshold we must physically and emotionally pass through in order to better comprehend ourselves. 

I have been an artist and educator for over eighteen years traveling and studying regions most affected by the African Diaspora from its origins in West Africa to final destinations in the Americas such as Haiti. My most profound learning experience as an artist was serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ghana. I taught in the Ghanaian public schools and helped to develop markets for local artisan work. The culture of the Ewe people is now woven like kente cloth into my artwork. Africa has immensely impacted my work and is a predominant theme. 

Throughout my journey I have passed through many doors and opened my mind to cultures that couldn't be more different from mine. Too many people have died, are dying, and will die because of cultural ignorance and misunderstanding. Worldwide, we are not so different. Regardless of race, language or religion, we are all looking for basically the same peace. If technology has made us a "global village"- then it is going to take the entire village to raise this child.  

By contrast, American culture is based on mass media (film, television, magazines, advertisement and internet). We have created an artificial world that is more real than reality. Since consumer culture has replaced the authentic world, the wealthy are no longer burdened with wars, poverty and corruption and are easily distracted with shopping, reality television, and the next championship sporting event. Our disorientation needs re-education.  

I find my imagery and reality through regal beauty in common tasks or in the lives of the proletariat. Women often emerge as the backbone for scenes. Strength and endurance in everyday life serve as fodder for subject matter. Whether the symbolism changes or not is of no consequence, so long as the message remains the importance in suffering and struggling of the masses. 


David Zukas