John Isiah Walton closes out exhibition with musical reception


Aaron Madison

The Kumasi Afrobeat Orchestra performs music from their latest album at the closing ceremony for John Isiah Walton’s Contemporary Art Gallery exhibition on Oct. 6. Walton created the cover art for the album. His artwork was on display in the gallery from June 14 to Oct. 6.

The Contemporary Art Gallery displayed paintings, works on paper and an animated music video by New Orleans-based artist John Isiah Walton from June 14 to Oct. 6. 

During a reception to close out the exhibition yesterday afternoon, Walton delivered a lecture describing his creative processes. In his talk, he encouraged students to follow their own path and keep close to those who are supportive of their choices. 

Walton’s exhibition, titled “Black Paintings: Cybernetic Folklore, Place, + Spirit,” presented various works from throughout his career and a music video created in collaboration with the Kumasi Afrobeat Orchestra. The exhibition draws its name from the influences and subject content displayed in Walton’s artwork. 

His lecture included information on the beginning of his art career, expressing himself through his works, and surviving the struggles that come with starting an artistic journey. Several of his artworks were on display in the art gallery, and students were encouraged to visit them and contemplate what makes them stand out from the rest. 

Junior art major Daniel McLean said, “John Isiah was able to be himself within his artwork, and he was able to bring in elements of modern culture along with putting in elements of African American culture within the work. He uses several different inspirations and elements to talk about the struggle of being an African American in specifically Louisiana and how that personally affects him.” 

John Isiah Walton stands in front of one of his paintings from his collection “Black Paintings: Cybernetic Folklore, Place, + Spirit” on Oct. 6 after giving a lecture to art students exploring the idea of expression through art. (Aaron Madison)

Many students viewed Walton’s lecture and his artwork at noon and came back at 5 p.m. to witness the closing reception.

To celebrate Walton’s artwork, the Kumasi Afrobeat Orchestra performed live music from their newest album. Walton created the cover art for the album, and the reception was a chance for them to showcase it. 

The band performed for two hours, and then the viewers were free to see Walton’s work for the rest of the night.

Walton said that this event does not mark the end of his Black paintings and that he has already begun planning for his next series of artwork. 

“I’m currently gonna try to finish off the black paintings in a couple years, but I have more heavy figurative works. I’ve got a ton of stuff I’m working on. I’m working on this black painting variant series called Virtual Boy where I’ll be working with black backgrounds but with more fluorescent paints and neon colors,” he said.

He said he hopes that those paintings will be showcased sometime in December with a group show in New Orleans.