Stop Playing in Rashaad Newsome’s Face | Studio Visits

We escape our comfort zone with the LGBTQ leader and self-coronated "King of Arms."
April 15, 2016, 7:44pm
Photos by Charlie Rubin

This article originally appeared on Creators.

Grills, tricked out cars, and leather battle armor is what first comes to mind when imagining 36-year-old artist and LGBTQ icon Rashaad Newsome. This is the image of the artist gleaned from King of Arms , a multidisciplinary work that is simultaneously a party, parade, and video artwork. On the surface, it epitomizes a lifestyle centered on material wealth, but actually represents the apex of Newsome's quite nerdy obsession with heraldry. The symbols of rank that ruled medieval Europe embody Newsome's 15-year grapple with dynamics of institutional power and race in America.

When I visit his Bedstuy studio, Newsome is not armored head to toe, but wearing a simple light blue t-shirt, comfortable-looking sweats and sneakers, and his lucky apron. The space is piled with boxes and seems like it's under construction, but Newsome has already taken to it, just as comfortable bringing new art into the world here as his lounge attire would suggest. You'd never know he moved in the week before after suddenly being priced out of a Long Island City space he occupied for three years. In a crunch, the new space seemingly found him, a good omen for the artist fresh off dominating headlines at Art Basel 2015, adorning the cover of Paramour magazine, and moving forward through a busy 2016. The studio has large, open windows, space to pace between the two work benches, two desks, and couch, and sits in a complex less than a five-minute walk from the G train I take to get there.