J. Stacy Utley is a critically acclaimed artist whose work deconstructs and reconstructs narratives found within the African American diaspora. His artwork depicts the human spirit and celebration of African American culture through body movement, language, and personal history. Whether his work convey joy or struggle, each artwork reveals a silver lining of hope that is essential to the fabric of the African American spirit. “Sometimes we have to cry, be angry, and fall—it’s the telling of what makes us beautifully imperfect as humans that is my mission. I strive eternally to document the cultural spirit of fellowship, laughter, and love that is inherent to people of color,” notes Utley.
Trained as both an architect and fine artist, Utley is limitless in his experimentation with medium: he works with found object, material, fabric, photography, advertisement, paint, and torn paper. In his mixed media collages and paintings, Utley seeks to find elements and juxtapose them next to one another to give the viewer an emotional and tectonic sense of the narrative. Like architecture, the layering is the building of a story. Utley constantly pushes through our cultural fabric to explore topics of institutionalized racism, civil rights, education, and gentrification.
Born in Mildenhall, England, Utley now calls North Carolina home. Utley received his Bachelor of Architecture from North Carolina State University, College of Design and his Master of Fine Art from Lesley University College of Art and Design in Cambridge Massachusetts. Utley has exhibited nationally in both solo and group shows. He is also an award-winning public artist and has executed commissions across the Southeast. Utley’s work is in several distinguished private, public and university collections including The Center for Political Art in Washington, DC, The Perry Foundation’s Gas Light Hotel Gallery in Charlottesville, Virginia, North Carolina State University and Johnson C Smith University.