Interviewed by: Suzan Sherman and Daniel Wentworth
Shot and edited by: Melissa Friedling/Slouch Productions

The Artist’s Life: Kalup Linzy

Born in 1977 in Stuckey, Florida, multimedia artist Kalup Linzy first became known for his serialized soap operas, particularly All My Churen, in which he played many of the characters, often in drag, while exploring issues of race, class, and sexuality historically absent from mainstream soaps. His earlier work was characterized by DIY production values, including disjunction between lip movement and speech—a riff on the dialect of his small, Southern hometown—while his newer videos have a decidedly more professional quality. In recent years, Linzy has begun to also work with animation and music, both individually and in collaboration with the actor James Franco.

Linzy invited NYFA Current into his Crown Heights studio and home in April where he sang us a song he’d written the previous night, “Police Rhythm Blue,” inspired by Marvin Gaye and blaxploitation films, while projecting his soap operas on his living room wall. Linzy’s countenance is definitely Southern—charming, hospitable, and slightly slow-paced, despite the urban environment that now surrounds him. His kitchen table filled with paint-filled plastic canisters, his living room walls covered with his paintings, he reflected on the therapeutic power of imagination and art, and the contrast in his life between his often solitary practice, and the glamorous opportunities that keep coming his way.

Kalup Linzy is an American multimedia artist currently living and working in Brooklyn. A graduate from the MFA program at the University of South Florida in 2003, Linzy also attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. He is a recipient of grants from the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial FoundationCreative Capital, the Jerome Foundation, and Art Matters. His work has been included in the exhibitions FrequencyThe Studio Museum in HarlemProspect.1 New Orleans30 AmericansRubell Family CollectionGreater New YorkMoMA PS1; and At Home/Not At Home: Works from the Collection of Martin and Rebecca Eisenberg,Hessel Museum of Art, Bard College. His work is in the public collections at the Studio Museum in HarlemWhitney Museum of American Art, and Museum of Modern Art. In 2010 Linzy appeared on the long running ABC soap opera “General Hospital” alongside James Franco in a storyline that incorporated performance art. On May 5, 2011 he will be honored as the University of South Florida College of the Arts Alumni of the Year.

Amy Aronoff
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