So why come back to Charleston?
Much of the work I was doing at The Cooper Union had everything to do with living in the South, and I was incorporating everything from LED corner store lights to rap lyrics into my work. So, in 2013 I decided to return to Charleston, where I came across another uniquely southern craft. I worked at a hotel, shuttling people to and from the marina to Market Street. That's where I met the kids who make palmetto roses. I was interested in their entrepreneurship, wandering the streets, hustling roses, and I saw the beauty and intricacy of their tightly hand-woven roses. I wanted to celebrate the rosemakers and use palmetto roses to describe the South's cultural landscape. In 2015, I had my first solo exhibition on Spring Street, and this was the first demonstration, at least for everyone in Charleston, that I took my career very seriously.
What was the response?
I had ambitious work there; I created a tree sculpture with roughly 3000 palmetto roses. With that exhibition, I aligned myself with the history and culture of Charleston. I realized there was a natural appetite for this work that was missing from the local art scene. I garnered a lot of attention, started to get demand for my work, and moved forward from there. I've worked independently as an artist since that exhibition.
You mentioned that you’ve always worked within this Southern, Charleston vernacular. Why is that important to you?
I felt the need to tell a familiar story and express myself through that vernacular, through those aesthetics, and bring to the table a conversation about contemporary Black culture in Charleston. Everything is so traditional and steeped in history—which is great. That's certainly part of the narrative, but a lot was missing, the contemporary South that my friends, peers, and constituents would enjoy experiencing through art.