Wanderers by Willie Robert Middlebrook
Willie Middlebrook’s art panels explode with color and human emotion. Portraits of a diverse population collide as the earth swirls between them, a reminder of our shared planet. A newborn baby’s mouth is open, gasping its first breath of air, symbolizing a rebirth of communication between people and an awareness of our relationship with our environment.
Middlebrook draws from a large collection of manipulated photographs to illustrate universal connections. The planet earth is the unifying element in each panel. In some images it appears as an offering, held out for the viewer by two female hands. In other images, it acts on its own agency, rotating around figures, then disappearing from the picture plane.
“My goal is to make art that speaks to us about how we relate to each other, life, love and our relationship to the environment.”
About the Artist
WILLIE MIDDLEBROOK was raised in Compton, CA and received his Associate of Arts degree from Compton Community College. He has received numerous awards including two Visual Artist Fellowships in photography from the National Endowment for the Arts as well as a Getty Trust Visual artist Fellowship and a Brody Individual Artist Fellowship from the California Community Foundation. His work has been exhibited throughout the country including the Studio Museum of Harlem, Art Institute of Chicago, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Cleveland Museum of Art and the California African-American Museum. Middlebrook is well known for his uniquely improvisational “photo-painting” portraits which he considers a collaboration between those he photographs and himself. He seeks to speak to and about his community, “not necessarily in a positive light but always in a true light.” Willie Middlebrook teaches photography at the El Camino College Compton Community Educational Center.