Paintings by Corey Pemberton are luxurious, kaleidoscopic and self-possessed portraits, in which the artist uses lush palettes, ornate patterns and affectionate depictions to portray and honor life’s most absolutely ordinary moments. By centering queer and BIPOC subjects within these quotidian domestic situations in the comforts of their own intimate surroundings, Pemberton’s revolution happens just by staking their claim on the normal. Also a glass artist, Pemberton’s sense of materiality, texture, pattern and chromatics in the paintings embodies the lushness of this comfort. Pemberton is the cofounder and director of Crafting the Future, a non-profit with a goal of increasing BIPOC access to the fields of art, craft, and design. His first West Coast solo show, home/body, opens this week at the progressive independent venue UNREPD, featuring new mixed media paintings on the themes that perennially captivate his thoughts.
What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?
My work is about creating space for “the other” to become relatable, while simultaneously celebrating their individuality.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?
I truly don’t know what else I would do if I weren’t an artist. I have no other marketable skills and can’t stand sitting at a desk or dressing up, or answering to a higher-up.
Did you go to art school? Why/Why not?
I went to Virginia Commonwealth University where I got a BFA in Craft and Material Studies. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be an artist, so why not go to the nearby, highly acclaimed, in-state art school that everyone else in my family went to?
Why do you live and work in L.A., and not elsewhere?
L.A. is such a breath of fresh air after living in the mountains of North Carolina for 6 years. There is so much more diversity here, of all kinds. And a market for my work that did not exist in the rural, conservative area where I was before.
When is/was your current/most recent/next show or project?
My solo show, titled home/body opens Saturday, September 18th at the new UNREPD/PopUp Home on Western Ave. I’ve been working on this show all year and am very excited to see it all come together.
What artist living or dead would you most like to show or work with?
Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what?
Constantly. A mix of hip-hop, R&B, and soul mostly. J Cole, Erykah Badu, Luther Vandross.