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The Contact box office is full of talented artists in their own right, and we wanted to showcase what they are most passionate about. This week we’re spotlighting fine artist Deji Hayes. Here’s what Deji has to say:


I have always found it a daunting prospect to pick my favourite of anything. When I was told I had to come up with my favourite artist for this blog, I was stumped for a while. To me it almost feels dismissive to say that there is any objective ranking in something as subjective as art. With this in mind, I instead decided to focus on one of the works I like the most rather than my favourite artist.

The piece in question is by contemporary American artist Kerry James Marshall, and is titled Lost Boys: AKA Black Johnny. It comes from a series of portraiture works known as ‘The Lost Boys’, the name being a reference to Peter Pan, and how the lost boys never grow up. All of these boys in Marshall’s work also never grow up, but in this case it’s due to the high mortality rate of young black teens in 90’s America. The pieces in this series use the theme of religion to symbolise the boy’s innocence, and I think this particular piece uses it in the most beautiful and heart-breaking way. The figure in this picture is surrounded by a halo, with a similar style to those used historically in West-European Catholicism to signify saints. What we are essentially looking at is a portrait of a completely innocent boy. The subtle sadness in his eyes paired with the radiant and soft colour scheme makes his inevitable death all the more tragic. 

Painting called Lost Boys: AKA Black Johnny of a man in a white shirt and white textured background

Kerry James Marshall – Lost Boys: AKA Black Johnny

On a slightly lighter tone, I am currently in a bit of a transition when it comes to my own artistic practice. Over the last summer I was focusing on semi-realistic portraiture and still life, incorporating themes about racial politics into my work as well as learning more about the media I worked with. Now I am aiming to learn more about digital animation to try and open up job opportunities for the future, but since the subject is so foreign to a fine artist like myself, I am yet to start actually creating pieces. Hopefully this will change in the very near future! 

Deji who works on the box office wears a bright yellow jumper and a pink lanyard, with brown afro hair, smiling whilst standing in front of a pink background


Deji’s Choice

Why not join us next February for Queer Contact? Deji’s festive highlights are Glamrou on 15 February and The Bitten Peach on 19 February. If you want to get involved in one of Contact projects, Deji recommends Music Drop!