Keef Cross, Creator & Writer
When I make art, it's truly an escape. An escape from stereotypes and expectations put on "black art" and it's creators. It seems like most people are comfortable seeing black people portrayed walking to church, playing a jazz horn, braiding hair on the porch and things of that nature. There isn't anything wrong with that, but that's not all we are, and that's not all we do. Similar to black cinema and radio, audiences have gotten used to and even anticipate these redundant one sided offerings of black life.
Because I am black, I make black art by default, but there is something primitive and futuristic in my work., showing where I want our imaginations to go, but never forgetting where we've been. I don't have a formula or plan when I create, and usually my pieces don't reveal their meaning to me until they're finished. Sometimes a piece can have no meaning at all, until a viewer sees it and gives me their perception, thus giving a piece new life to me.
Growing up being influenced by Ralph Bakshi, Vaugn Bode', Wendy Pini, and Robert Crumb to name a few, really shaped my visual aesthetic, and tone of my paintings, but even more so, my approach to creating my comic book, "DayBlack". I found that those underground comics of the 70's always had one foot in sexual raunchiness and drugs, and another foot in social commentary, a combination that fascinated me as a kid. Who knew that in those adult comics I hid from my mother, I would find my individual voice and style.
A misconception of my work is that I'm pro black, and it's true to an extent. I'm all about pushing progressive images and ideas about my people to the forefront whenever I get the chance. TV, radio, and film won't do it, but I feel like art is the last medium that has been corrupted the least, and with the help of other like minded artists who aren't afraid to challenge these notions of what black art is and can be , we can help change the way the world sees us, and the way we see ourselves, one gallery at a time.
Justin J Jordan, Director
Justin has always been a dreamer.
Movies like Field of Dreams, Top Gun, ET, Jurassic Park, Malcolm X, and Last of the Mohicans inspired him, but he never thought a career in film was possible growing up in the plains of the midwest.
Justin began his career in advertising as an creative intern, where he learned the mechanics of great visual communication and, after several years of hard work, earned his way to Art Director. After years of crafting stories for Fortune 500 brands, Justin took the passionate plunge and spent most of his money on equipment to tell his own stories. Within one year, he had published his photographs nationally, directed a national TV commercial and created an award-winning web series based on his own family life.
A divine series of events landed Justin behind his inspirations Ava DuVernay, Bradford Young, and Mark Friedberg on the Feature Selma, and the path to his dream was cemented from thereon. DayBlack is Justin’s first short film, and will (hopefully) world premiere at Sundance.
Justin considers his two children his greatest work of art, and often collaborates with the love of his life, Charity Jordan, in producing films and web series.
Eugene H Russell, IV
Versatility, discipline, vitality, and professionalism have propelled veteran actor Eugene H. Russell IV to stay the course of his dream to sustain a career in acting for over 15 years. He has worked steadily to achieve a long list of credits and his commitment to the trade is tireless.
A recipient of the prestigious Woodie King, Jr. Award for his lead performance in Before it Hits Home with St. Louis Black Rep, this award-winning actor has a vast number of theatre credits. Russell’s work with Atlanta’s Tony Award winning Alliance Theatre includes a memorable performance as part of the cast of the world premiere of What I Learned in Paris by Pearl Cleage. Under the direction of Kenny Leon, Russell has worked extensively with True Colors Theatre Company. His most notable work under Leon includes his portrayal of George Gibbs in Our Town.
Whether playing Romeo in Georgia Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet; recording one of many voice-overs he’s done for Ford; recurring on CBS’s Under The Dome; or portraying the lead in Whitestone Motion Pictures' riveting short film Jack and the Dustbowl; Russell’s poise and impeccable renditions enrich and prove invaluable to every project he undertakes.
Russell is also a multi-talented vocalist, musician, and songwriter, sharing stages with artists such as Grammy Winners Ann Nesby and India.Arie, Janelle Monáe, and jazz legend Earl Klugh. A recording artist with a critically acclaimed solo album (Starving Artist) to his credit, Russell has become known as the go-to saxophonist for innumerable studio sessions.
As Russell now navigates crossing over into the world of film/television, this heralded theater actor draws on years of preparation in a variety of areas including character study, scene study/analysis, and theater arts. With steadfast dedication to conquering this transition, Russell has taken up additional on-camera training with Actor’s Loft Space as well as private coaching with instructors Robert Mello and Amy Jo Berman.
Without question, Eugene H. Russell IV has boldly lived his life in pursuit of his dreams, and he continues to be willing and committed to do the work required to make them come true.