The words “I think it shows how art is helping me find myself,” are written across Just a Thought, one of the works in Ernest Littles Senior show at Dillard University. Littles throughout this show explores themes of perceptions, and varying degrees of truth as a basis for the majority of his work to date.
In Magnum Opus (Speckled), Littles investigates color theory by juxtaposing eight shades of blue and gray thick dots next to each other. The all over composition of the painting situates each shade alongside or slightly on top of each other. Recalling the studies done by Joseph Albers, Littles explores how each shade affects the perception of the other, some grays look much more blue alongside other shades of gray. Interestingly enough, Littles himself is color blind, his physical ability to see if markedly different than others. This play on how we physically perceive work illuminates Littles exploration of the world as a place where truth has many shades.
Sides Pt. 1 and Sides Pt. 2 are both works that take inspiration from Glenn Ligon’s work with text. Littles, however, includes two differing points of view on the affects of money on an artist’s career. “Wealth is of the heart & mind. Not the pocket.” And “Having money does extend your palette. It gives you the opportunity to do more things which are a bit more ambitious and to work in different media.“ occupy the same picture plane. These two dissenting opinion’s present to the audience different ways of understanding a situation. Littles underscores this fact by painting in beige, a neutral tone, highlighting that he presents both views as equally correct.
Finally, Littles creates a series of road signs that depict cultural trends that can be perceived through varying cultural signs. No Twerking, and Twerk, are both depicted as road signs, notifying the audience of what to expect ahead. Cultural evolutions sometimes need a loud explosion to bring it to the attention of the mass media, such as the Miley Cyrus Twerk. Those dance moves, of course, have a much longer cultural life than the one Miley gave it, originating in African dance and becoming a seminal move in New Orleans Bounce. However, sometimes we need big, yellow signs in our face to alert us of cultural appropriation and it’s effects.
Littles senior exhibit explores the qualities of things; both physically and intellectually. Is something true? Is something right? Littles, wise for an artist early in his career, does not make huge statements that posit his opinion, but instead, allows the audience to contemplate their own.