Biography

Lavar Munroe (born 1982, Nassau, Bahamas) creates multimedia works that explore themes rooted in the African Diaspora. Munroe grew up in the impoverished, stigmatized and often marginalized Grants Town community in Nassau, Bahamas. In 2004, he moved to the United States at the age of 21. His work functions as a reflection of the environment of his upbringing, and draws from memory the crude graffiti on the walls that surrounded his street. The artist maps a personal journey of survival and trauma in a world of gang violence, drugs, murder, and self-discovery. Though inspired by the past, Munroe’s loud, energetic, and unapologetic visual language confronts contemporary society with the strained and difficult relationship between authority and those who are marginalized and oppressed by systems of power.

 

As well as tapping his own experiences, much of Munroe’s practice comprises research that is informed by critical investigation and theories surrounding mythology and literature. Referencing Joseph Cambell’s ‘The Hero’s Journey’, Elaine Brown’s book ‘The Condemnation of Little B’ and Stanley “Tookie” Williams’ memoir, ‘Blue Rage, Black Redemption’, Munroe explores a number of social stereotypes in order to critique and challenge disparities that cut across gender, race, class, and age.

 

Munroe’s most recent series, The Redbones, explores global political strife and societal ills including income disparity, war, and racism. The Redbones are a fictitious group of child-soldiers from poverty-stricken areas based on photographs and artifacts collected in Senegal. These cultural works straddle the line between painting, sculpture and installation, challenging narratives around survival, loss and trauma.

Munroe was a participant in Okwui Enwezor’s 56th Venice Biennale and Trevor Schoonmaker’s Prospect.4. He recently had a Ten-Year Survey at the National Gallery of the Bahamas, which was accompanied by a monograph, Lavar Munroe: Son of the Soil, as well as a solo exhibition at the Meadows Art Museum in Shreveport, LA, Devil in the White City. In 2019 he will be showing in the exhibition Get Up, Stand Up Now at the Somerset House, a major exhibition celebrating the last 50 years of black creativity; the Perez Art Museum Miami exhibition, The Other Side of Now; as well as Coffee, Rhum, Sugar, Gold: A Postcolonial Paradox, curated by Larry Ossei-Mensah and Dexter Wimberly at the Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco. In 2018 Munroe was included in the following group exhibitions: Shifting Gaze: A Reconstruction of The Black & Hispanic Body in Contemporary Art, Mennello Museum of American Art (Orlando FL), African Metrópolis (Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo, Rome), Off Biennale Cairo: Something Else (Cairo, Egypt), and Becoming American curated by Fionn Meade (Seattle, WA). His work was recently shown in Afriques Capitales at La Villette and the 2016 Dakar Biennale.

 

Munroe's works are in the Estate of Peggy Cooper Cafritz and are featured in Fired Up! Ready to Go!  He has a MFA from Washington University, St. Louis, a BA from Savannah College of Art and Design, and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. He recently completed a residency at the Headlands Center for the Arts, Marin County, CA, and has previously been an Artist in Residence at the Fountainhead Residency, Miami, FL. Munroe is a Joan Mitchell Foundation Painting and Sculpture Grant awardee. Munroe is a Visiting Professor at Indiana University. He lives and works in Indiana and the Bahamas.