Noel W. Anderson
April 2, 2023

Complete playlist below; tracks in yellow were cut for time.

  1. Merry Go Round, The Equatics
  2. Cruisin’ to the Parque, Durand Jones & The Indications, feat. Y La Bamba
  3. Planet Caravan, Black Sabbath
  4. On Love, David T. Walker
  5. Something to Rap About; Freddie Gibbs; The Alchemist; feat. Tyler, the Creator
  6. Mints, Uniting of Opposites
  7. Hope; Don Cherry, Tommy Koverhult, Tommy Goldman, Maffy Falay, Tage Siven, Okay Temiz
  8. Overcomer, Royce Da 5’9, Westside Gunn
  9. Dos Gardenias, Buena Vista Social Club
  10. Candela, Buena Vista Social Club
  11. Dos Gardenia, Angel Canales
  12. At Your Best (You Are Love), Aaliyah
  13. Pelle Di Luna, Piero Umiliani
  14. Mosadi (Woman), The Crusaders
  15. Ponta de Faca, Sessa
  16. Dern Kala, Khruangbin
  17. Arrival, The Alchemist
  18. The Mexican, Babe Ruth
  19. Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God), Kate Bush
  20. Mother Stands for Comfort, Kate Bush
  21. Awake O Zion, Elbernita “Twinkie” Clark

Artist Noel W. Anderson brought one of my favorite playlists to date on this Palm Sunday show, and no wonder—music (and movement) plays a profound role in both his studio practice and his everyday way of being.

When I first met him, Noel’s work was primarily performance-based, but his more recent work involves appropriating images from both archival and commercial sources and translating them into woven tapestries. The textiles are made in France and the American South using the 18th-century Jacquard weaving technology, which employs a kind of binary code and helped to inspire the earliest mechanical computers. When the tapestries get to the studio, he then abrades, snags, stains, and otherwise distresses them in a process reenacting the vicissitudes of time and abuse. Anderson discusses the writing of artist Hito Steyerl, and how her concepts of “rich” vs “poor” images informs his work. We talk about how much his work and process owe to theories of language and performance from Heidegger, Derrida, Fred Moten, and Michel de Certeau. How chains of etymological meanings open up meandering paths through form, history, and interpretation.

Noel talks about recent, past, and upcoming shows which are organized into three parts and all consider the contemporary condition of Blackness as he sees it: Black excellence, Black exhaustion, and Black erasure. This structure provides a framework for Noel to connect form and story (and for James Brown to make some surprise appearances).

Peppered throughout the convo are stories about Noel growing up in a church family in Louisville, DMX, Clint Eastwood, and his point of connection with former President Donald J. Trump. (It's The Phantom of the Opera, folks.)

Noel W Anderson (b. Louisville, KY) received an MFA from Indiana University in Printmaking, and an MFA from Yale University in Sculpture. He is also Area Head of Printmaking in NYU’s Steinhardt Department of Art and Art Professions.

Anderson utilizes print-media and arts-based-research to explore philosophical inquiry methodologies. He primarily focuses on the mediation of socially constructed images on identity formation as it relates to black masculinity and celebrity.  In 2018, Noel was awarded the NYFA artist fellowship grant and the prestigious Jerome Prize. His solo exhibition Blak Origin Moment debuted at the Contemporary Arts Center (Cincinnati) in February 2017 and travelled to the Hunter Museum of American Art in October 2019. His first monograph, Blak Origin Moment, was also recently published.