Artist Spotlight: Marlon Forrester

August 24, 2021

Abigail Ogilvy Gallery is proud to represent the artwork of Marlon Forrester, an artist, educator, and athlete working in Boston, MA. Forrester’s work centers primarily on the corporate use of the black body, or the body as a logo. We recently chatted with Forrester about his work, his life, and his influences:


Abigail Ogilvy Gallery: How were you introduced to the arts, and when did you know you wanted to pursue it?

Marlon Forrester: I grew up watching family members take part in constructing sculptures/floats and performing in different costumes for Carnival. There was no real separation between art and culture while growing up as a youth. I come from a rich cultural background in which five different ethnic groups; Black, Indian, Amerindia, European and Chinese exist in Guyanese culture. It is indeed a melting pot for both race and religion.

AOG: What, to you, is the most important part of your practice?

MF: The most important part of my practice is my exploration of concepts related to the black male body and basketball through performance, painting, drawing, sculpture, large scale installations, and video. Transformation and ritual is the foundation element.

AOG: You were a professor at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. How has your work as an educator informed your studio practice?

Image Courtesy of Marlon Forrester

Image Courtesy of Marlon Forrester

MF: I worked previously as a professor at SMFA but currently teach as a graduate adjunct instructor at MCA. While teaching at SMFA I taught watercolor and paper, essentially a mixed media class that explored the additive and reductive properties of water. The material application of paint is an emotional space for transformation through mark making.

AOG: In your “Passing Series,” a performance based body of work, you lie prone in public places, tossing a basketball in the air. Can you speak a bit about the series, as well as the way the public in those spaces reacted while you were passing?

MF: In the "Passing Series" the audience responded to my performance in public spaces with a certain sense of excitement, engagement, and curiosity. Some of the viewers attempted to and wanted to interact with me throughout the performance by either pretending to reach for the basketball or walking in close proximity to my body. The "Passing Series" remains a celebration of the slave passage in which slaves were brought from Africa to the Americas.

AOG: You’ve mentioned the importance of self care in your studio practice. What is self care for you, and what does it do for your work as a whole?

MF: Self care is essential to all human beings and within the context of my studio practice it is the ability to remain unrestrained, untethered, released from the formal constructs that inhibit compositionally and materially play. Painting with both hands, splattering paint, spraying paint on to surfaces, painting upside down or from a state of imbalance serves to contextualize and parenthetically flatten out space in my work.

AOG: What was a moment that really stuck out to you in your career, and why was it important to you as an artist?

Image courtesy of Marlon Forrester

Image courtesy of Marlon Forrester


MF: My entrance into Yale as a graduate student for Painting/Printmaking radically shifted my perspective on art making. Color theory, critical and theoretical spaces for thinking and art production moved into the forefront of my thinking. Performance which has always been an innate aspect of my identity became an acceptable tool that I could incorporate into my practice. I think having Magdalena Campos Pons as a mentor. Other instructors such as Peter Halley, Robert Storr, and Huma Bhaba, Mickalene Thomas and other amazing artists also elevated how I thought about art not just as passion but as a commodity connected to the art market.

AOG: Can you tell us a bit more about yourself outside of your work?

MF: I'm married, have two beautiful children, write poetry, freestyle, still shoot hoops, love chess and frequently find that mentorship through teaching is also a driving passion of mine.

AOG: Any advice for the next generation of artists?

MF: My advice to the next generation of artists is quite simple, "Be the change that you want to see.” I think, essentially give yourself the space to believe that your reality and future can be formed by your dedication to your dream. Each mark, each cut, each thought buildings on top of another and is of great importance so use them wisely before someone else does.

Abigail Ogilvy Gallery looks forward to hosting our inaugural solo exhibition with Marlon Forrester in September of 2021.

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Abigail Ogilvy

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