Rashad Jamaal is a local artist who most recently exhibited his work in Black, a joint art show with Danielle Robinson, at Local 412, the hip-hop retail/gallery/performance space in Garfield. He also performs locally as musician Billy Pilgrim and is the singer in the hardcore-punk band Killer of Sheep.
I asked him some questions about his art and music, as well as his feelings on this week’s cover subject.
What’s the best thing about being an artist in Pittsburgh?
My favorite thing is that it isn’t as expensive to live here as it is in New York or San Francisco … yet.
Where did you learn how to paint?
I was into art when I was young, and a teacher in elementary school recommended me to the Art Connection program at Carnegie, which I attended for four years. I also attended CAPA for visual arts until the department head said I couldn’t study both art and music.
I graduated from Slippery Rock with a degree in history, and then came back to Pittsburgh and started to paint again through youth work, teaching mostly by way of murals and community art programs.
Are you currently working on any other art projects?
I’m always working on something. I currently have a few commissions, portraits and murals in the works, as well as “gifts” for friends and community. I also am working toward a group show (location to be announced) with fellow Pittsburgh artists Natiq Jalil and George Gist, tentatively titled “The Coloured Section.” Really excited to share space with Natiq and surely honored to be working alongside Gist. Stay tuned!
Your cover art this week illustrates Black Lives Matter. You also recently participated in Black, an art show at Local 412 on your interpretations of blackness. Does the Black Lives Matter movement mean anything personally to you?
Well, no lives matter (really) in the cosmic sense. But as a human being who experiences race, as long as people of color are treated less than human in the city of Pittsburgh and elsewhere, I will always work toward the dismantling of any and all institutions that make such sickness possible. And I will always encourage people to question and engage any such establishment until there is change. … I stand with all who are fighting the good fight.
Do you think political art has the ability to change the world?
All art in theory should inspire a pause of some sort, be it personal, political or otherwise. So, yes, art has power and can be used as an instrument of change. It can be a tool. It can be a weapon. It can be therapy.
In addition to being an artist, you’re also a musician performing under the name Billy Pilgrim and as the singer of Killer of Sheep. Do you have any upcoming shows people can check out?
Yes! We have two Killer of Sheep shows this Friday, one at the Rock Room in Polish Hill and another at The Smiling Moose on the South Side. As Billy Pilgrim, I am currently working toward touring the new record outside of Pittsburgh. I also still DJ pretty regularly around the city.
Which makes you happier: making art or making music?
I need them both for different reasons.
You can see more of Jamaal’s work at https://www.facebook.com/billy.pilgrim.58367 and listen to his music at www.facebook.com/billypilgrim15206 and https://www.facebook.com/Killer-of-Sheep-100408743380584/
Lisa Cunningham is the art director for
Pittsburgh City Paper and will be featuring some of the artists she works with this year. If you're a local artist and interested in reaching out, send samples to firstname.lastname@example.org.