Over the course of the last few years, you’ve probably heard me mention Shawn Peters in relation to the great curating he’s been doing at Weeksville Heritage Center for their annual Garden Party series. However, it’s becoming clearer that the work he’s probably most proud of is his visual work, both as a photographer and a director of photography. He’s shot videos for Gregory Porter, Blitz The Ambassador and Pharoahe Monch, to name a few. He’s also handled the behind-the-lens duties for Afropunk’s Triptych series, as well as the Terence Nance-directed An Oversimplification Of Her Beauty.
So it was great to see Shawn profiled at Jay-Z’s Life And Times in an interview by Fanon Che Wilkins. Here, he talks with Wilkins about the impact of Morehouse on him and his group of contemporaries and fellow classmates that include Saul Williams, Sanford Biggers, and Tahir Hemphill, to name a few:
Well what’s interesting is that Morehouse is not known as a school that focused a great deal on the creative arts, but many of us pursued art because of our tremendous desire to offer something artistically meaningful to the world that was particularly relevant to reclaiming our dignity as a people. I mean Saul Williams was a philosophy and theatre major and his efforts in those arenas shaped his poetry and music prowess. Martin Luther majored in mass communication and was a filmmaker in college. The great thing about Morehouse was that we all learned about the importance of articulating ourselves, whether it was behind the camera, on the stage, in the pulpit, or in front of the classroom. I mean Sanford Biggers work focuses primarily on cultural identity and ‘reriteing’ history through art—that is seeing history itself as a malleable art form. Recognizing that history is written out of a creative selection of ‘facts,’ Biggers’ work seeks to treat history like sculpture with an eye toward remolding the past. So in essence, all of us share a common interest in using our voice to advance the collective interests of our people and humanity in some kind of way. Morehouse taught us that and I am forever grateful.
Here’s some of his latest work, also in collaboration with Terence Nance, on Erin Barra’s “Good Man” video which according to an official release, is “a mini film, which investigates several aspects of the relationships between two people: everything from power dynamics and gender roles to how/why people love each other. Intended to make you have an emotional reaction, this music video is a play on the Stockholm Syndrome done in reverse chronology a la Memento.” Nice.