SHERWIN BANFIELD

NEW YORK, NEW YORK | SHERWIN BANFIELD

NEW YORK, NEW YORK | SHERWIN BANFIELD

INTERVIEW: TERRELL “REALIFE” BLACK

VALIDATED: WHAT IS YOUR NAME AND WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

SHERWIN BANFIELD: MY NAME IS SHERWIN BANFIELD AND I’M ORIGINALLY FROM TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO BUT GREW UP IN NJ AND NY.

VALIDATED: WHAT'S YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY OF HIP-HOP, THE CULTURE?

SHERWIN BANFIELD: MY EARLIEST MEMORY OF HIP HOP, I WAS ABOUT 5 OR 6 YEARS OLD. I WENT OUT WITH MY FAMILY TO A PARTY, TYPICAL TRINI PARTY, ALL CALYPSO, SOCA AND REGGAE MUSIC. THEN SUDDENLY THERE WAS A BREAK IN THAT SOCA RHYTHM AND ON CAME BREAKBEATS. KIDS STARTED BREAK DANCING AND IT WAS A MOMENT FOR ME AND MY BROTHER.

VALIDATED: WHAT INITIALLY DREW YOUR ATTENTION TO SCULPTURES?

SHERWIN BANFIELD: SCULPTURE WAS ALWAYS THIS MYSTERY TO ME. SCULPTURE IS A THING THAT EXIST IN YOUR SPACE, IN PUBLIC SETTINGS OR ON TABLE TOPS. BUT I DIDN’T IDENTIFY IT AS SCULPTURE, IT WAS KNOWN AS STATUES. I ALWAYS WONDERED HOW THESE STATUES WERE MADE, WHERE THEY WERE MADE AND WHAT MATERIALS WERE USED. NOT KNOWING THESE ANSWERS CAPTIVATED ME. WHEN I ENTERED ART SCHOOL, I STARTED STUDYING ART HISTORY AND LOOKING DEEPER AT THESE PUBLIC STATUES, MY VOCABULARY ON THE TOPIC EXPANDED AND THESE STATUES BECAME SCULPTURES TO ME.

VALIDATED: HAVE YOU HAD ANY ART EDUCATION OR ARE YOU SELF TAUGHT?

SHERWIN BANFIELD: I HAVE FORMAL ART EDUCATION TRAINING, KNOWN AS THE WESTERN CLASSICAL TRADITION. LEARNING THE HUMAN ANATOMY, STUDYING THE MASTERS OF THE RENAISSANCE. THE LEARNED PHILOSOPHY OF TRADITIONAL SCULPTURE BEGAN AT PARSONS SCHOOL OF DESIGN, BUT THE PHYSICAL PRACTICE OF SCULPTURE STARTED AT THE ART STUDENTS LEAGUE OF NEW YORK. I WOULD SAY I’M ALSO SELF TAUGHT. AS THE FOUNDATION FOR TRADITIONAL SCULPTURE BECAME COMMON PRACTICE, I BEGAN THE PROCESS OF SEEKING OUT MY IDENTITY THROUGH STUDYING AFRICAN SCULPTURE, FROM THE ANCIENT EGYPTIAN AND KEMET TO THE KINGDOM OF BENIN, THEN EXPANDING OUT TO THE OTHER CULTURES THROUGHOUT THE WORLD.

VALIDATED: WHEN AND WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO FOCUS ON HIP-HOP ARTIST?

SHERWIN BANFIELD: I DECIDED TO FOCUS ON HIP-HOP ARTIST AS A PERSONAL PROJECT. TRYING TO CAPTURE MY EXPERIENCES WITH SONIC FREQUENCIES AS A YOUTH BEING IMMERSED IN A CARIBBEAN FREQUENCY THEN MIGRATING TO THE UNITED STATES ONLY TO BE IMMERSED IN MUSIC OF MY ENVIRONMENT, WHICH WAS AND STILL IS HIP HOP. GROWING UP IN TRINIDAD, YOU CANNOT ESCAPE THE MUSIC BLASTING OUT OF THESE CLUSTERS OF STACKED SPEAKER BOXES. I WANTED TO MIX THAT EXPERIENCE WITH HIP-HOP, THE SOUNDTRACK TO MY TEENAGE YEARS.

VALIDATED: HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHICH SUBJECTS TO WORK ON?

SHERWIN BANFIELD: I DECIDE ON A SUBJECT BY INSPIRATION OR THROUGH THE BIRTH OF AN IDEA. INSPIRATION COMES FROM EVERYDAY LIFE, OBSERVING AND WITNESSING PEOPLE, PLACES AND THINGS. AN IDEA IS A RANDOM THOUGHT, QUESTIONED, SUGGESTED AND SIMMERED UNTIL IT'S GALVANIZE BY AN OPPORTUNITY.

VALIDATED: THE FIRST SCULPTURE YOU EVER DID, TELL ME ABOUT IT, WAS IT A SUCCESS OR A FAILURE IN YOUR OPINION? DO YOU RECALL THE SUBJECT OF THE PIECE?

SHERWIN BANFIELD: I BELIEVE MY FIRST SCULPTURE WAS A CAR, MADE OF CARDBOARD AND SCOTCH TAPE. MY BROTHER AND I WERE CAR CRAZY AS KIDS, ACTUALLY IT WAS MORE MY BROTHER AND I WAS JUST FOLLOWING ALONG AS A YOUNGER BROTHER FOR THE FUN OF IT. WE WOULD HAVE CAR DRAWING COMPETITIONS, AND ONE DAY WE HAD AN IDEA TO MAKE OUR OWN OUT OF CARDBOARD AND SCOTCH TAPE BY DRAWING THE SIDES, TOP, FRONT, BACK AND BOTTOM ON CARDBOARD, CUT OUT EACH SHAPE WITH A SCISSOR AND TAPE ALL THE SIDES TOGETHER... AND BOOM! WE HAD OUR OWN CAR TOYS, LOOKING BACK THEY WERE MY FIRST SCULPTURES. I CONSIDERED IT A SUCCESS, SINCE WE GOT A LOT OF JOY OUT OF MAKING AND PLAYING WITH THEM.

VALIDATED: THE PHYSICAL PROCESS OF CREATING YOUR SCULPTURES, WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT IT?

SHERWIN BANFIELD: IT FIRST STARTS WITH AN IDEA. WHEN AN OPPORTUNITY TO GALVANIZE THIS IDEA INTO EXISTENCE ARISES, THE NEXT STEP IS USUALLY TO SKETCH OUT THE IDEA. THEN I BEGIN THE PROCESS OF BRAINSTORMING HOW-TO BUILD OUT IN MY MIND THE FINAL SCULPTURE DESIGN. I MAKE NOTES OF MY THOUGHTS USING MORE REFINED SKETCHES, WHICH THEN BECOMES A FIRST DRAFT DRAWING. COMPLEX SCULPTURES REQUIRE TECHNICAL DRAWINGS WITH EXACT MEASUREMENTS. IF NECESSARY A SMALL VERSION CALLED A MAQUETTE IS SCULPTED, WHICH HELPS TO WORK OUT THE OVERALL DESIGN, PERSPECTIVE AND MEASUREMENTS. THE AMOUNT OF MATERIAL NEEDED FOR THE FINAL LARGE SCULPTURE CAN BE CALCULATED FROM THIS MAQUETTE. TOOLS AND MATERIALS ARE PREPARED ON A SCULPTING STAND READY FOR THE PHYSICAL CREATION OF THE FINAL SCULPTURE. IF THE FINAL SCULPTURE IS FIGURATIVE, ANATOMY IS USED AS THE STRUCTURAL FOUNDATION TO BUILD THE FINAL DESIGN AND SUBJECT LIKENESS.

VALIDATED: WHICH IS YOUR MOST MEMORABLE PIECE AND WHY?

SHERWIN BANFIELD: MY CURRENT PIECE, A CYPHER IN QUEENS IS MY MOST MEMORABLE PIECE BECAUSE IT ENCAPSULATES THE SONIC HISTORY OF MY PAST AND PRESENT INTO A MONUMENT CELEBRATING THREE HIP HOP LEGENDS.

VALIDATED: WHICH ARTISTS HAD THE MOST MEMORABLE REACTION TO YOUR SCULPTURE OF THEM?

SHERWIN BANFIELD: ALL THREE ARTIST DEPICTED IN MY SCULPTURE PROJECT HAS TRANSCENDED AND IS NOW LOOKING OVER US AND THE CULTURE. I WOULD LIKE TO SHARE A REACTION BY PHIFE’S MOM, CHERYL BEING "AMAZED AND INSPIRED" BY MY CREATIVE DEPICTION OF HER SON.

VALIDATED: IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT ROLE DOES THE ARTIST PLAY IN SOCIETY?

SHERWIN BANFIELD: THE ARTIST PLAYS A PIVOTAL ROLE IN SOCIETY BY PARTICIPATING IN CREATING AND UPHOLDING CULTURE. WE DO THIS BY STIMULATING YOUR MIND AND HEART WITH THE THINGS WE CREATE. THESE CREATIONS ORIGINATE FROM IDEAS AND INSPIRATIONS THAT ILLUSTRATE, MIMIC OR ABSTRACT SOCIETAL CONDITIONS.

VALIDATED: HOW HAS HIP-HOP AND ART IMPACTED YOUR LIFE?

HIP HOP AND ART IMPACTED ALL ASPECTS OF MY LIFE. HIP HOP IS THE SOUNDTRACK TO MY YOUTH, A TIME IN MY LIFE WHEN I BECAME CONSCIOUS OF THE WORLD AROUND ME. HIP HOP ACTUALLY HELP TO DEMYSTIFY THE HALF TRUTHS TAUGHT IN OUR EDUCATIONAL SYSTEMS, AND BROUGHT ENLIGHTENMENT TO LIFE AS A BLACK MAN IN THE UNITED STATES AND THE GREATER WORLD. ART EXPOSED THE STORIES OF CULTURES THAT CAME BEFORE ME, HELPING TO IDENTIFY MY IDENTITY AND THE HISTORY OF MY PEOPLE. I BELIEVE A HEALTHY DOSE OF HIP-HOP AND ART CAN HELP TO UNIFY THE WORLD.

VALIDATED: FROM AN ARTIST STANDPOINT IS THERE SOMETHING HIP-HOP HAS, THAT NO OTHER MUSIC GENRE CAN OFFER?

SHERWIN BANFIELD: YES, HIP-HOP HAS THE POWER TO CHANGE THE WORLD AS IT OFFERS THE VOICE OF THE YOUTH A CHANCE TO BE HEARD, UNRESTRICTED AS A COLLECTIVE OR AS INDIVIDUALS.

VALIDATED: THREE OF YOUR SCULPTURES ARE CURRENTLY ON DISPLAY AT SOCRATES SCULPTURE PARK IN LONG ISLAND CITY. CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE EXHIBIT, THE PIECES AND WHAT EACH REPRESENTS?

SHERWIN BANFIELD: MY SCULPTURES ON DISPLAY AT SOCRATES SCULPTURE PARK IS TITLED ‘A CYPHER IN QUEENS’ THIS SCULPTURAL WORK IS AN EXPLORATION OF SONIC IDENTITY EXPRESSED THROUGH THE FREQUENCY OF THE HIP HOP CYPHER. THIS SCULPTURAL CYPHER CONSISTS OF THREE AUDIO SCULPTURES, EACH REPRESENTING THE SONIC IDENTITIES OF THREE LEGENDARY FALLEN ARTISTS FROM QUEENS, NY. ONE DJ (JAM MASTER JAY OF RUN DMC) AND TWO EMCEES (PHIFE DAWG OF A TRIBE CALLED QUEST AND PRODIGY OF MOBB DEEP). THESE THREE HIP HOP ICONS WERE CHOSEN FOR THEIR INDIVIDUALITY, UNIQUE STYLE OF DELIVERY, EXCELLENCE AND CONTRIBUTION TO THE ARTFORM OF HIP HOP. EACH AUDIO SCULPTURE CELEBRATES NOT JUST THE ARTISTRY OF HIP HOP CULTURE, BUT ALSO SERVE AS A MEMORIAL FOR THE GENIUS OF EACH ARTIST REPRESENTING QUEENS. STANDING NINE FEET TALL LOOKING DOWN UPON THE VIEWER, EACH SCULPTED ARTIST IS RENDERED WITHIN AN ACOUSTIC ENCLOSURE, CAPABLE OF OUTPUTTING THE SONIC IDENTITY OF THEIR MUSICAL LEGACY.

ONE OF THE INSPIRATIONS FOR ACIQ IS THE SLIT GONG, A SCULPTURAL INSTRUMENT MADE OF WOOD AND PAINT MEASURING OVER FOURTEEN FEET TALL, BY THE TIN MWELEUN PEOPLES OF AMBRYM ISLAND IN THE PACIFIC OCEAN. THESE TOWERING STRUCTURES VISIBLE TO THE COMMUNITY ARE CARVED FROM THE BREADFRUIT TREE AND ARE USED DURING CEREMONIES AND ARE SAID TO POSSESS THE VOICES OF ANCESTORS OR SUPERNATURAL BEINGS. HIP HOP IS THE VOICE OF OUR ANCESTORS AND THE BIRTH OF HIP HOP WAS (AND STILL IS) CREATED BY SUPERNATURAL HUMAN BEINGS INCLUDING THESE QUEENS HIP HOP ICONS SURVIVING THE CONDITIONS OF THEIR NEIGHBORHOODS BEING BLACK MEN & WOMEN IN AMERICA. A CYPHER IN QUEENS SERVES AS A VESSEL FOR COMMUNICATING THE STORIES OF THESE POETS AND THEIR IMPACT ON OUR COMMUNITIES THROUGHOUT THE WORLD. THEIR SONIC MESSAGE IS UNIVERSAL.

VALIDATED: WHAT’S YOUR REACTION TO HOW THE HIP-HOP COMMUNITY HAS EMBRACED YOUR WORK?

SHERWIN BANFIELD: IT HAS BEEN AN OVERWHELMING REACTION OF LOVE FROM THE HIP-HOP COMMUNITY’S REACTION TO MY SCULPTURES. LEGENDARY QUEENS HIP HOP ARTIST IMMORTALIZED AS SONIC STATUES, EXHIBITED IN A QUEENS OUTDOOR PARK, IS A FIRST FOR THE CULTURE.

VALIDATED: WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING ON?

SHERWIN BANFIELD: I HAVE IDEAS FOR FUTURE SONIC HIP HOP SCULPTURES THAT I’M CURRENTLY DREAMING UP. I’D LOVE TO DO ONE OF GANG STARR AND ANOTHER OF BLACK STAR. OUTSIDE OF HIP HOP SCULPTURE, I AM CURRENTLY A ARTIST IN RESIDENCE AT LAGUARDIA AIRPORT’S MARINE TERMINAL A WITH THE QUEENS COUNCIL OF THE ARTS. I WILL BE CAPTURING THE ENERGY OF LAGUARDIA AIRPORT THROUGH A SERIES OF DRAWINGS. THESE DRAWINGS WILL BE EDITED THEN USED AS THE DESIGN FOUNDATION FOR A RELIEF SCULPTURE.

VALIDATED: OUTSIDE OF SCULPTURE, WHAT OTHER MEDIUMS DO YOU WORK WITH?

SHERWIN BANFIELD: DRAWING AND PAINTING.

VALIDATED: WHERE CAN THE READERS SUPPORT YOU AND YOUR ARTWORK ONLINE AND SOCIAL MEDIA?

SHERWIN BANFIELD: WEBSITE: WWW.SHERWINBANFIELD.COM

INSTAGRAM @SHERWINTHEARTIST

INSTAGRAM @ACYPHERINQUEENS

Troy Hendrickson