During the early 80s, a time way before the DIY age was upon us, Steven T. Cogle, found himself in the library daily in Brooklyn, NY immersing himself in sketchbooks and recollecting his favorite superheroes to remix them into his own hip-hip versions. “As much as I liked superheroes like Superman and Batman, they didn’t look like me, so I couldn’t relate to them,” says Cogle. With a fervent desire to create and populate characters that not only he liked, but that he also could envision himself as being from a visual and cultural perspective, Cogle set a precedent that empowered himself while leaving a legacy of empowerment for other Artists of color to access.
Embarking upon a path that was far from linear and straightforward, Cogle’s art pieces possess many layers of depth and complexity in an unorthodox and abstract manner that illuminates sacred stories that document the tradition of African people disseminated throughout the Diaspora. These stories are poetically infused with his unique paradigm that was birthed as a product of his own narrative and journey on American soil. “When people ask me what my art is, I say it’s tribal Africa crossed with urban blight,” says Cogle. “You can definitely see the African influences in my artwork, but yet I want to tell a story about my environment where I grew up also.”
And that he did and continues to do. Whether from serving in the military or witnessing the challenging evolution of racial equality in the American environment he found himself in, one thing that is for sure is that Cogle developed a sharp cultural and political perspective that organically is interwoven in his art pieces such as “Detainee” and “Detainees”, documenting the narrative of America’s War On Terror.
Cogle’s work and perspective is unparalleled, yet many compare his style to the the world-renowned Brooklyn native, Jean-Michel Basquiat, who came out of the neo-expressionist movement in the 80s. To Cogle, this comparison highlights the reality that many black artists were overlooked by the mainstream including Basquiat during that time. Artists such as Bob Thompson paved the way for Basquiat, yet most people have no clue who he was. And part of Basquiat’s notoriety was sparked upon his very own tragic demise. So perhaps there are others that may have a similar aesthetic to Basquiat’s work with the naked eye, but to the artists himself or herself the work they create is entirely unique and immensely their own expression.
A true man of artistic integrity, Cogle over-stands his belief that “Art means life and that every breath proves to be a new brushstroke.” A motto that the heART of Cool community most definitely subscribes to.
So, take a glance at the world through Cogle’s eyes as you view his artwork and be on the look out for other entrepreneurial pursuits as Cogle is a multi-dimensional Artist that is building a world that will serve as a bridge for other artists as well. Tv, Film, Fashion and comic books – Cogle plans to infuse his perspective in a myriad of artistic mediums in addition to all of his celebrity commissions such as the one he did for Michael B. Jordan & Chris Rock.
Love & Light,
CRISTEN M. MILLS