For the past year, 32-year-old artist Titus Kaphar has been prepping for “History in the Making,” his solo exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum, which opened April 3rd. The painter recently purchased a house in Connecticut, where he earned his M.F.A from Yale, and renovated his garage into a studio space. He and his wife also just welcomed their second son into the world. These days, keeping work close to home is a priority because Kaphar is a family man on a tight schedule.
“This is my first solo show of this size. A year ago, they flew me out to see the space and we talked about the setup. Then I figured out what works best: Just make the work and stop thinking.”
Kaphar relied heavily on curator Sandra Jackson-Dumont. “You have to work with someone you trust. You have to have a good idea of their vision because then you can let them do that.”
“Four months ago, Sandra came to narrow down what would be included.” Some selections were obvious, while others were not. “There’s a nice piece that I had to pull out. I have conversations with it, like, ‘You figure out what you want yet?’ and it’s not saying. So I’m waiting. [I also ended up] including things I never intended on showing.”
Kaphar’s work is more than painted canvases—he shreds them, crumples them into balls and stitches them together. “If I’m feeling hyped, then it’s time to deconstruct or do a drawing. If I’ve got that focused energy, then it’s time to paint.”
With a small family and a budding career, Kaphar doesn’t play. “I get up at 5:30 A.M—my newborn doesn’t sleep—then I get my two-year-old up at 7:00 A.M., make breakfast. At 9: 30 A.M., I come into the studio and my here until 7:00 P.M. All that romantic ‘Ah, I gotta wait to be inspired’ kind of thing is gone.”