LA native and current resident, Kohshin Finley (b. 1989), earned his BFA from Otis College of Art and Design.
Kohshin Finley’s latest works depict people of color as they attempt to answer the question, “how do I survive in America?” This series is the visual manifestation of a poem Finley wrote called Camouflage for the Modern Man. Camouflage tells the story of a young man who, in the wake of numerous police shootings, casts away his Air Jordans, hoodies, and other markers of vilified black masculinity, in hopes of putting his mind at ease. When his search for peace of mind proves futile, he begins to paint his body titanium white as his last recourse.
Born and raised in the racial and social climate of South Central Los Angeles, Finley taps into his own Black-Mexican heritage and experiences to create each painting. Finley’s friends and family are the subjects of these paintings, captured in vulnerable moments, at their most honest and revealing while having conversations with Finley about navigating the world as people of color. In the midst of these conversations, Finley takes photographs to capture visceral moments in time that he then translates into paintings. Prior to each painting he writes poems stemming from those conversations mixing them with his own history to tell a personal story that takes on a new life on the canvas.
His poems are often written in diaristic scrawls throughout the paintings as if hinting at the internal thoughts of the people depicted. Kohshin Finley creates paintings in this way to honor his own and his subjects’ vulnerabilities, giving the viewer permission to discover something about themselves (in the precarious present).