Historic Monuments &Timeless Moments
A great deal of my work is devoted to ideas that I hope will inspire the viewer to a greater awareness of their spiritual existence. An important component of this quest is my use of the human figure which I consider one of the most powerful artistic mediums for portraying the complexities of the human experience.
The human body to me becomes the focal metaphor for my struggle to define the individual’s ever shrinking place in our mechanized, and technology based society. I find that the figure still has the most intimate emotional impact on how we view ourselves, our Gods, and our collective future.
I also use this figurative symbolism as an African American artist because I realize that the values and progress of any culture can be seen in the public art which it produces, and how the different components of that culture are portrayed. Tragically, the important contributions that people of African descent have made within European based cultures has traditionally been overlooked completely or misrepresented in the public forum. To address this concern one of my aesthetic goals is to contribute to a more accurate and dignified portrayal of African Americans and the unique history thy have experienced in the Americas.
I hope that when people look to our time they will begin to see in our public monuments a new image of African Americans emerging, one showing the independence, dignity, and confidence of a people fully participating in all facets of their society.
ARTIST DAVID NEWTON
In 1991, a national search for an artist to create a public monument at the controversial Freedman’s Cemetery brought figurative sculptor David Newton to Dallas, Texas. His award winning commission to create a memorial for the Freedman’s Cemetery commemorates the lives of thousands of slaves and Negroes after Reconstruction buried in a violated cemetery that was partially covered in the 1940s to construct North Central Expressway (State Highway 75) that divided and eventually destroyed a once vibrant African American Community.
Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Newton’s creativity was recognized at an early age by family members and a grade school teacher’s recommendation for him to take private art lessons from Detroit artist Charles Mcgee. These encouraging initiatives set in motion a career path for the young Newton. David Newton received his undergraduate degree in fine arts from Detroit’s College of Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan and his Master of Fine Arts degree from the Graduate School of Figurative Arts in New York City, New York. While studying for his B.F.A., Newton studied the works of great masters such as Donatello and Michelangelo for a semester in Florence, Italy at the Studio Art Center International (SACI). Newton’s studies in Europe have profoundly influenced the elements of his creativity.
Classically trained, Newton transforms long forgotten historical moments into timeless public and private testaments of how the human figure still has the most intimate impact on how we view ourselves, our gods and our collective future. Newton was raised as a devout Jehovah Witness. Biblical sermonettes and mythological themes about human behavior and conduct reflect his religious training as a child: Mythological characters such as Paris and Helen of Troy, biblical figures like Bathsheba, The Entombment (Jesus Christ),The Expulsion (Adam and Eve), The Last Judgment (sinners condemned to hell), and ordinary people such as El Vaquero (unsung heroes), and Freedman’s Cemetery Memorial (burial ground for African enslaved in the New World),and the Veterans’ Memorial of Plano (military service men and women). These objects, both private and public, possess power imbued with a personal devotion consisting of his deep emotions focused on the intended theme of the subject portrayed.
Influenced by Greco-Roman sculpture, Newton’s figurative forms are full of evocative tension. His silhouettes are naturally poised and embodied with vitality and are charged with emotional and psychological impact. Translating a classical seven and one half heads cannon into a system to express an African-American aesthetic, Newton’s collective body of work convey a sense of deep cultural spirituality. According to Newton…”Whenever I would gaze upon historically important sculptures to study figurative design, I would come away knowing that there were few figures depicting people of African ancestry. Perhaps more importantly, I was inspired by visions of unsung heroes and heroines of everyday people, who had made significant contributions to this great country…and I knew I had to capture these people in the same dignified manner as European sculptors before me had immortalized their own images."
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