Self:Portraits — McArthur Binion

Press Release

Self:Portraits — McArthur Binion

Photo by William Jess Laird

Library Street Collective is pleased to present an exhibition with Detroit native and widely celebrated artist McArthur Binion titled Self:Portraits, opening Saturday, December 10th, 2022. With a career spanning over forty years, Binion is known for producing mixed media works that marry the language of rhythmic Minimalist abstraction with personal memory and autobiography. On display will be a selection of paintings from Binion’s “Self:Portrait” series, six of which were created in 2016, and seven of which were created over the last few months.

Within the “Self:Portraits,” Binion lays a foundation for each work constructed of personal photographs and documents—this critical underlayer is what the artist refers to as the “under-conscious” of the work. Photocopies of Binion’s address books, passport, and birth certificate are common biographical elements included throughout the breadth of his creations, however, the featured paintings place a special focus on self-portraits of the artist. Revealed in the compositions of the earlier works is a photograph of Binion at nine months old, crawling in the backyard of his home in his birth state of Mississippi; in the later works, one can identify a portrait of Binion at age 33, as well as photographs of the artist’s hand. The later works are also imbued with sheet music from “Still Standing Stuttering,” a composition by his friend and jazz saxophonist Henry Threadgill, which was specially commissioned by Binion and premiered live this past June at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Such content fuses Binion’s interest in visual and sonic modes of expression, and attempts to “visualize how [he] hears music.” Layering oil paint stick atop the collages of paper, Binion accentuates the serial shapes that form from the repetitive nature of the compositions to forge autobiographical abstractions of minimalist patterns intended to be “read” rather than simply seen.

Self:Portraits constitutes a homecoming of sorts: not only is it Binion’s first exhibition in his hometown in nearly two decades, but it also precedes his return to the city as a part-time resident. It is with a motivation to give back to Detroit’s creative community that Binion founded the Modern Ancient Brown Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports the intersection between the visual and literary arts in the Detroit community through an artist grant campaign and residency program. Established in 2019, the foundation’s headquarters will open in 2023 in Detroit’s East Village. Binion will be donating 100% of his proceeds from the exhibition to Modern Ancient Brown; Library Street Collective will be donating a substantial portion of its proceeds to the further development of the public skatepark at the Shepherd, designed by Binion and legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk. The skatepark is spearheaded by the gallery and in partnership with Jefferson East, Inc., a neighborhood non-profit organization that serves low-income populations on the City’s east side and five historic bordering neighborhoods.

Binion’s first-ever exhibition showcased a series of “Self:Portraits,” a premise the artist imagined early in his career and has returned to on the occasion of his exhibition at Library Street Collective. Displaying new paintings in concert with paintings of years past, the exhibition presents its audience with a visual demonstration of Binion’s ceaseless growth. Encouraged is a reflection of the past, present and future: through the paintings, we are reminded of the personal history and amassed experience that comprises Binion’s identity today, as well as his active efforts to enrich Detroit’s creative scene for prospective generations of young artists to come.

McArthur Binion: Self:Portraits will be on view from December 10, 2022 through February 22, 2023 at Library Street Collective.

Install Images

Artwork Images

McArthur Binion — McArthur Binion

McArthur Binion

Self:Portrait, 2022
Ink, paint stick and paper on board
84h x 84w in