Artist statement


Derrick Bell – Oakland, CA 

Derrick Bell, born Cincinnati, Ohio.  Bell is an American painter and furniture maker who works from his studio in Oakland, California.  Derrick Bell received a BA degree in Studio Art at Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia, and a MA degree in Art Education at Mount St. Joseph University, Cincinnati, Ohio. 


I have spent my entire career working to perfect my craft as an educator and visual artist in multiple mediums. Initially, I created furniture, then paintings and drawings. As I began to explore other mediums, I discovered that each had its own distinctive characteristics, its own matchless capacity to give voice to my work in a way that no other medium could. My challenge continues to be to master each medium’s technical aspects, while recognizing the unique properties that will allow me to serve the topics I want to explore.  

I am interested in the study of human behavior; its psychological and emotional impact on society and how constructed conditions-Rules, Policies, and Uncontested Mindsets affect the human collective and individual consciousness, notably people of the African diaspora. 
My work seeks to question, explore, and expose experiences, causes, effects, and the transitory variables that shape us in our daily Conscious-Constructed and Imaginary life. I see myself as a social archivist or action researcher exploring the ironies of contemporary social and racial politics. 

Storytelling is essential to my practice, as evidenced by my use biblical references, African-American church motifs, African art, poetry and music references, North American and European history and current events.  These divergent bags of influences are points of departure used to introduce my perspectives, ideas and concerns. The interplay between past and present, time, place and truth, between joy and pain, tolerance, activism and understanding are seed my exploration.  

Legacy and the importance of maintaining self-esteem for human beings is central to the work I am currently engaged, while examining the importance of controlling the cultural narrative of one’s own stories and experiences.  I am particularly taken by African American culture, with its inventiveness and improvisational zeal. 

My current work makes direct reference to diminished humanity, blackness, commodification, bias, and psychology. The ongoing work continues to addresses social ascent and descent, performativity of identity with a particular attention to notions of violence, whiteness, class stratification, Martial law, fascism, social exclusion, apartheid, genocide, isolation and assimilation.