If you’re in Syracuse this month, you may hear the drumbeat of artist Todd Gray, who has come to participate as Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence. So he can keep up his African drum skills, we have already put him in touch with a local drum group, and assured him the Light Work apartment is likely to be soundproof. Gray has plans to expand his photo-based shamanist performance series into a multi-media event that will feature multiple projection screens synched by software to the rhythm of his drumbeat. Envision Gray drumming as his spiritualist personae, with projections firing off juxtaposing images of African and American culture and architecture, interspersed with images of from private ‘shaman’ performances in which he applied shaving cream to his body, enacting various totemic animate forms. If you’re already feeling a trance-like state coming on with mere anticipation of experiencing such a meld of music, religion, and excess imagery—don’t worry—that’s just what he intends.
[Todd Gray gave two performances of Sonic Love Wave during his residency. The photo-based multimedia art performance featured multiple projection screens synched by software to the rhythmic beats of Todd’s African drums. One performance was held July 27 at the New Renaissance Theatre in Syracuse. A kid-friendly performance was held at Light Work that morning.]
Todd Gray spends his time between Ghana and Los Angeles. He attended the California Institute of the Arts in the late 1970s and became the young Michael Jackson’s official photographer from 1979-1984. In the late 1980s, Gray received his MFA from Cal Arts and turned from his commercial experience to a conceptually rigorous body of work. He has exhibited widely, at venues including the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Smithsonian Anacostia Museum and Center for African American History and Culture. He is currently a Professor of Photography and Digital Imaging at Cal State Long Beach.