Baltimore artist looking to carve a path for artists from underserved communities in NYC

Three years later, artist Mark West is returning to the Bronx to explore what it means to make art without labels.

News 12 Staff

and Noelle Lilley

Jun 12, 2023, 4:23 PM

Updated 368 days ago

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Mark West grabbed national headlines in 2019 for being one of the youngest people to open an art gallery in the Bronx.
Originally from Baltimore, West got his start as an artist in New York City selling his work on the streets near Union Square.
"I sold two paintings my first weekend! The next weekend I had prepared 14 paintings and I sold 9 of them in about 5 hours, and I made my rent plus," West said.
West is a Black man and identifies as queer, but he says his art is about human connection beyond race, gender or sexuality. He has mixed feelings about being labeled a Black artist or a queer artist.
"My art is not about my queer identity. I don't think about that period when I make art. That's not why I'm making art. This is not the space for me to share my trauma, this is the space for me to share my love," West explains.
Much of his art features universal themes of belonging, pain, and forgiveness.
Through his work, West also wants to carve a path for artists from underserved communities. Thanks to a grant from the Citizen's Committee NYC, he's launching an exhibition to support and display work from young artists of color that's centered around the city's NYCHA housing.
These days, Mark splits his time between his hometown of Baltimore, New York City, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where he also owns a studio.


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