A black man is standing in his underwear, his back to the camera, with large upside down angel wings protruding from his back. Mylar balloons spell "negro," they are trapped in a bird cage surrounded by seeds. A wall-length collage stands behind Raub Welch, as he introduces his piece titled "Evolution of the Slave”.
Welch was the featured artist for the Black History Month art exhibition in Founder's, with his artist talk taking place on Feb. 17. The talk was well attended, with a variety of students, faculty, and community members in the audience. The exhibit, entitled "The Endangered Species: A Visual Response to the Vanishing Black Man" explored various obstacles being faced by black men, including limited opportunities, incarceration, and prejudice.
"This is a wake up call to what's happening with black men of color," Welch said in an interview with The Leader. "It's also a call for black men to take responsibility for what's been put upon them."
The pieces are all mixed-media collages, spanning up to 16 feet in size, with each depicting a different issue faced by black men. Suellen Rocca, curator and director of exhibitions at EC, chose Welch due to the impact of his work.
"They're so deeply felt, and express a powerful message so well," she said. "It's just such a well conveyed message."
Rocca also feels Founder's was the right place to showcase his work, due to their size.
"Visually they work so well here," she said. "There's not many places who can display pieces of this size."
When asked about his process, Welch describes that is comes together naturally over time.
"It starts with finding antiques from flea markets, thrift stores, and swap meets," he said. "I take them to the studio and see where they work with what I'm making. I'm always surprised with how they turn out as well."
The audience asked various questions surrounding the imagery or purpose of different objects included in the artwork, such as a tobacco box, yard sticks, and tally marks. For artists who hope to make a similar impact with their creative talents, Welch has simple advice.
"Create what you want to create," he said. "I believe you should go with your heart."