“I’ve heard a number of things, been called the sellout, the ‘Chris Rock’ of the art world (I like that one by the way). And people accuse me and question my blackness - they accuse me of making paintings that deal with these images because 'white folks want to see these images’ And I’m saying to myself, 'Boy, I don’t know,’ in that white folks wanted to see these images to laugh at?”

(Forever Free) Hello I’m Your New Neighbour - Michael Ray Charles (1997)


Michael Ray Charles was born in Lafayette, Louisiana and went to school in Lake Charles. Charles is a Professor of Art at the University of Texas at Austin and was featured on Art 21, season one. He has pieces in the Museum of Fine Art Houston, the Museum of Modern Art, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the San Antonio Museum of Art and Others. An accomplished native son of Louisiana, Charles’ art wrestles with issues of race in America, juxtaposing history with contemporary images of African Americans. 

Promo card for Michael Ray Charles: New Paintings & Sculptures exhibited September 20 - October 25, 1997, Tony Shafrazi Gallery, NYC. (Image: Forever Free, Heads or Tails, 1997, Acrylic latex, stain & copper penny on paper, 60 x 36 inches.)