The New York-based multimedia artist makes his Pittsburgh debut with Shade Compositions, Wed., Dec. 12 at the Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland at 8 p.m. The performance, featuring local performers, was organized by Jessica Beck, the Milton Fine Curator of Art at The Andy Warhol Museum in conjunction with its current exhibition Devan Shimoyama: Cry, Baby.
Tell me what you are wearing today?
I am wearing a JW Anderson sweatshirt. I discovered him from an interview I saw online. He talked about his stuff the way an artist talks about their work. He was really thoughtful and smart, so I thought it was cool. I was recently in London and I wasn’t prepared for the weather there and I needed a sweater. And his store was right next to the hotel where I was staying. So I went in and grabbed this sweater and it is comfy, easy and that’s why I am wearing it.
And it is Black and Gold. Were you thinking about Pittsburgh colors?
I was not even thinking that about that yeah but [starts singing “Black and Yellow” by Wiz Khalifa] “... black ‘n’ yellow, black ‘n’ yellow.” [Laughs] Yeah it is perfect. I didn’t even think about that but yes representing Pittsburgh today. Shout out to Pittsburgh!
What do you like about the design?
I always dress comfortably. I am an artist so I am always doing sh*t. So I need to be comfortable but I also have to have a little swag too. It's about being comfortable, but also [looking] nice.
The jeans are regular Levi’s jeans, also comfortable. The shoes, very comfortable, are Balenciaga Triple S.
Ah, OK, I kept looking at them like, 'hmmmm, they are not Nikes!' [Laughs]
They have almost three soles so they are really kinda bouncy and they seem like they wouldn’t be comfortable but they are extremely comfortable.
So do you subscribe to the luxury kicks movement?
I don’t know if I subscribe to it but I like good design. Sometimes that is from luxury things and sometimes from a myriad of other things. But comfort is always, always at the fore.
Are you a jewelry person or do you wear a watch?
I don’t wear jewelry. I wear one [piece], though I don’t even have it on today, so that shows you how much of a jewelry person I am. It’s a little beaded bracelet that a friend gave me as a gift recently. I wear that sometimes. It is my birthstone, a tiger’s eye with a little Buddha — it’s nice, it keeps me calm and centered. The stone has a lot of healing properties.
I am so much not a jewelry person. I don’t have it on today, but normally I do. Other than that, nothing.
Because I work with images of jewelry in my work, I am, but I am [also] not a jewelry person. I feel like I am going to lost it or forget it.
And why is jewelry part of your work?
I make collage work about the culture of domination and how the culture of domination teaches us that we need things in order to feel powerful, beautiful, or important in the world. So I pull images of cars, jewelry, certain hair textures, clothing — signifiers of status and use that as material to make these abstract images that comment on the culture of domination.
So do you buy things yourself as representation of your personality or do you buy clothes mainly for comfort?
I definitely make conscious decisions on the things that I buy. But it has to be comfortable, aesthetics pleasing, things that are designed well. Like this sweater, it is cut short. So I feel like when he designed it, he wanted it to be shorter on someone. But on me its perfect.
How can people find you?
Rashaad Newsome Studio: IG, Facebook, Twitter
Rashaad Newsome on Soundcloud
I am out there in these digital streets, in these virtual streets. [Laughs]
What do you have coming up?
On December 12 I’ll be performing with an amazing cast of local Black women from Pittsburgh. And it is going down, we’re about to light that b*tch up. Literally and metaphorically.
After that I will be headed back in New York to celebrate my birthday, December 19, before going to West Africa, to work on a whole new project, a robotics project, that starts in Africa, interestingly enough. I think people think that it wouldn’t start there.