Rik Freeman

Contact Information:

1530 Olive St., N.E.
Washington, DC 20019
(202) 399-4111


Artist Statement:

I have been living and working as a professional artist/muralist since 1989. In 1994, I began outlining, researching and working on a series of paintings called "THE CHITTLIN CIRCUIT REVIEW." I have worked on this series intermittently between mural projects. The series is based on the origin, evolution and fruition of the musical tradition known as the Blues. The paintings focus on a visual interpretation of not only the lyrics, but the reality of the conditions that birthed the Blues and the music's impact on our current society. The more I work on this series, the more I realize that it is not just an artistic journey, but an anthropological study on a segment of American history.

While the series is based on factual times and conditions, it revolves around fictional characters, principally "Mud Paw Willie and the Dawg Gon Blues Band," and their experiences in and around the Chittlin Circuit, even before it was known as such. "Chitlin Circuit" is a colloquial term used to define the regional touring areas where Black musicians and entertainers were able to perform under Jim Crow laws and segregation.

The paintings explore all facets of the music from its African ancestry of call and response; the early gospel influences, the relation of field and work gang songs, and the sociopolitical conditions that brought a rural people and their music up the Mississippi River and on train tracks to Northern urban cities and factories.

This series, when complete, will number 25-40 paintings. My goal is to take the completed series on a tour, to do a modern version of the Chittlin Circuit. I am seeking avenues of sponsorship in order to accomplish this goal.

Fife, Fiddle 'n Drum (2004)
Oil 60" x 68"

T'aint Nuttin' New (2001)
Oil 44" x 88"

Hope Tracks X (2004)
Oil 7' x 8'

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