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Michael Ray Charles Biography

Michael Ray Charles is a contemporary American painter. His work explores historic African American stereotypes from the Antebellum South, appropriating images from advertising and pop culture to expose the underlying racism prevalent in contemporary culture. Charles creates a mimetic vocabulary of cultural, racial, and historicized images to subvert those themes and explore surviving caricatures that continue to appear in popular media, such as Aunt Jemima or Sambo. “Stereotypes have evolved. I’m trying to deal with present and past stereotypes in the context of today’s society,” the artist has said. Born in Lafayette, LA in 1967, he went on to earn his BFA from McNeese State University and his MFA from the University of Houston. His work has been both critically celebrated and the source of controversy, and in 2001 Charles was the subject of an Art:21 short documentary. He was appointed as the Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Professor of Painting in 2014 at the University of Houston’s School of Art, and he has exhibited internationally, notably in the Austin Museum of Art, the Knox Art Gallery, and The Museum of Modern Art in New York.

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