Spotlight: Multimedia Artist, Rashaad Newsome


Transfixed is how I’d describe the first time I experienced Rashaad Newsome’s work. In a white booth at The Armory Show, his video performance Shade Compositions SFMOMA looped on a flat screen. With Newsome as the maestro, this sea of performers dressed in sass, accentuated lips, flexing with scattered matching handbags started a chorus of what Newsome calls “ghetto gestures” – snapping heads back and forth, sucking teeth while saying things like “what” and “excuse-me” over and over till it built itself into a neighborhood crescendo of ‘what happens/what you hear on your block’.

I dare you to watch the video below and not understand a fraction of the fierceness.

Once I pulled myself out of the video performance, I realized the collage artwork hanging in the booth was also by Newsome. Pieces that clearly emulated a vocabulary lived through and taught. His style is a seamless swaggering blend of urban culture and fine art – a mix of collage, video, and performance. His art is propped up on color, framed off with blingy status symbols – chrome hub caps and heavy gold rope chain punctuate collage images that low-ride through the traditional art world culture like it owes him money.

Multimedia Artist, Rashaad Newsome Multimedia Artist, Rashaad Newsome

Some of my favorite works have been his recent art performances that focus on transforming what you think defines the popular dance form known as voguing.  In the performances, dancers perform effortlessly for the camera, showing off the skill and beauty involved with this cultured narrative.

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed watching Rashaad navigate through the art world on his own terms, weighing in on more than visual terms. It allows you to realize that there is a place in the contemporary art world for an artist to give a true representation of the world they came from and the one they’ve grown into to. Inhabiting that space is the unfiltered version of creative freedom – exactly what Newsome continues to creates for the subjects he’s often inspired by.


Rashaad Newsome | Website | Instagram

Rashaad Newsome – Born 1979, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Lives and works in New York.

The More You Know:

  • Rashaad Newsome, Blending Hip-Hop and Heraldry | New York Times
  • Want more of Newsome’s Videos on his Vimeo
  • Rashaad Explores The History of Hip-Hop Gestures | Huffington Post
  • At NOMA (New Orleans Museum of Art): A look back at the first solo exhibition in Louisiana by renowned video, performance, and collage artist Rashaad Newsome (born 1979), Rashaad Newsome: King of Arms explores the artist’s interest in ornament, systems of heraldry, and Baroque grandeur.




Anamorphic: an intentional distortion.

The artistic duo Ella and Pitr (a.k.a. Papier Peintres) are best known for their street frame collages have taken their art to another level. Together they scouted out beautiful spaces that had been abandoned and then spent the next two months in Eitenne transforming these rare spots into wonderful illusions. Depending on the angle you take your picture in front of the backdrops, one can seem as if they’re actually captured in a frame.

All in all, they painted 11 different anamorphic paintings that were photographed and used as part of a campaign for the National Dramatic Center of St. Etienne.

via mymodernmet

all photos © Ella & Pitr via their website & Graffiti Art Magazine









The Art of Ann Marshall

sunshine and molasses 

We love browsing the internet and stumbling across an artist whose work was previously unknown to us.  Enter, Ann Marshall, from Atlanta, Georgia.  Ann’s work caught our attention with her fascinating portraits that take on familiar collage elements with an added mix of photography, painting, and drawing.

HAHA MAG: Ann, while I was looking at your work, I couldn’t help but think of Klimt. Is he one of your artistic influences?

Ann Marshall: Klimt is an influence, but one of many. My interest has always been painting individuals, but not necessarily perfectly replicating an entire environment since the camera is far more efficient at this and it’s a far too rigid a goal to be enjoyable (at least for me). I find this style allows me to merge my two interests while tackling the elusiveness of personality and inner worlds. My subjects, like myself, are essentially introverted.

Other influences include Rembrandt, Goya, Holbein, Durer, Memling, Vermeer, and Bellini (all of which are great in sympathetically portraying humanity, in all its complications).  I could go on, but this list is getting troublingly random.


HM: I love the fact that you stated your work was somewhat “low tech.” It brings an elegance and clarity to your work.

AM: I enjoy working by hand. While the technology to produce digital work has improved in the last ten years, I still prefer the experience of making things in real space more. It’s messier, less exact and certainly a lot more flaw prone. But in the end, I think handmade works possesses a warmth and humanity that a lot of digital work still lacks. Also, I have a hard time sitting in one position all day. I was in an accident a year ago, and as a result, can become uncomfortable if I have to sit in the same position for hours at a time. Really heavy long term computer use is probably out for me.


HM: While looking at your pieces, I noticed that there were no males used. Is this intentional?

AM: Actually, my boyfriend is in there somewhere, but yes, I mostly paint woman because I think they are more fun to paint.


HM: In terms of art, what moves or inspires you?

AM: I saw a Fra Angelico show at the Met years ago that nearly brought me to tears it was so beautiful. Contemporary Chinese and Japanese work has a vitality that’s hard to beat, and there’s a Brazilian artist Herbert Baglione whose work I’m currently obsessed with. In terms of good figurative composition, comic and graphic novel artists are the best.


HM: While we’re talking about inspiration, you not too long ago took on a very important project.  How did you come to illustrate a children’s book on the Holocaust?

AM: I actually went to art school to become a children’s book illustrator and this was my first book. Luba, The Angel of Bergen Belsen was written by Michelle McCann and was an amazing account of a woman responsible for saving 54 children at Bergen Belson.  I remember lying in bed the night I got the project thinking “I’ve just accepted a children’s book on the Holocaust… Dear God what have I done.”

It was a tricky project because of the subject matter and there was a very thin tight rope to walk. If the illustrations were too realistic, it would be inappropriate for children; to rosey, and you are making light of the Holocaust.  It seemed impossible. I locked myself in my apartment for six months a worked on the art. Thinking and learning about the Holocaust for that period of time is not easy and eventually I started listening to trashy novels while I worked as an escape. Still, it was fascinating project.

After the project ended, it won a few awards and I eventually met Luba and a few of the children she saved. I will never forget the experience. They were some of the most impressive people I have ever met.

To see more of Ann’s work, please visit her website at

By Leigh Karen Labay