American artist inspired by his African roots

The reception for the Spencer Evans’ exhibition, “The Veil’s Farewell” took place Sept. 21 in the Brazos Gallery. Evans is a 30-year-old artist from Houston who is originally from Nigeria.

The collection was inspired by members of his family; his niece, nephew and friends and featured expressive large-scale paintings and drawings. The faces, the gestures, the postures of the characters were realistic and intense. A woman in the audience was so moved that she shed tears.

Students listen as Spencer Evans speaks about his inspiration for “The Veil’s Farewell” in the Brazos Gallery on Sept. 21.

Students listen as Spencer Evans speaks about his inspiration for “The Veil’s Farewell” in the Brazos Gallery on Sept. 21.

Evans’ painting are intended to question social conformity. The idea behind the exhibit is to explore the “veil” that people present to the public and question why people in this country do not feel free to be themselves.

"It is all about appearance. We show people what we want to show. I tend to find a lot of things that will connect me with my community especially in these categories: language, the way we dress, the way we wear our hair,” said Evans. “I feel great by not cutting my hair anymore, I love the way it grows."

Evans’ favorite piece of his collection is “Camouflage,” a suffocating man dressed in a suit trying to loosen his tie.

"That was me when I was living behind a veil," he admits.

Spencer Evans and one of his paintings.

Spencer Evans and one of his paintings.

It has been only a couple of years since Evans participated in the Rising Star exhibit in Dallas where galleries in the Dallas/Fort Worth area choose an artist to represent in the showcase. Being represented by the Valley House Gallery brought his work to a larger audience and they were pleasantly surprised. That led up to the exhibition "The Veil's Farewell.”

Evans has been drawing since the age of 3, but it didn’t consider art as an occupation until he was a junior in high school. That was when he first met a black professional artist and learned he could go to school and get paid for his art work.

Standing among some of his pieces, he said, “When you’ve got a gift and you’re working on that, there are so many things you can do with it."

Influenced by black artists including Kara Walker, Frank Frazetta, Kerry James Marshall, Kehinde Waley, and Titus Kaphar, Evans finds inspiration in his travels to Nigeria.

He humbly shared his ultimate goal, which is, "Two people in the same room having a conversation about his pieces and thinking about the message behind [them]."