Blake Lenoir

Blake Lenoir
Blake Lenoir
(b. 1984, Chicago, IL) renders the flora and fauna of his native Illinois with the same compulsive intensity he brings to drawing the endangered species of the Amazon basin.
Self Portrait, Blake Lenoir - Embedded
Self Portrait
Colored Pencil on Paper, 22” x 22”
2005
Self Portrait, Blake Lenoir - DownloadClick to Zoom
BIO
Blake Lenoir (b. 1984, Chicago, IL) renders the flora and fauna of his native Illinois with the same compulsive intensity he brings to drawing the endangered species of the Amazon basin. Filling the page with butterflies, insects, native grasses, flowering plants, tree-dwelling mammals, and birds with exotic plumage, Lenoir depicts the jungle (or the prairie) as a Wild Kingdom teeming with life of every sort. And like an Eden before the Fall, in Lenoir’s world of nature, everyone gets along. An artist with autism, Lenoir was recently the subject of a Chicago Tonight profile, and he regularly speaks on behalf of Project Onward.

THE ART
In Lenoir’s “Self Portrait,” animals from every continent play and sleep among undulating sweeps of river and forest. Each creature is a tiny portrait; many look back at the viewer as if pleading for recognition. Lenoir places himself in this natural paradise, which makes this a quietly remarkable picture; popular culture is full of images of African American men in gritty, urban settings, as if this is their only possible location. Lenoir’s quiet face, at home in this Eden, resembles a shield protecting these wild inhabitants. In the distance, a woman peeks out from behind a tree, another flicker of humanity in a world from which most of us have absented ourselves.

This artist is represented by Project Onward. Project Onward is a communal studio where artists with developmental, cognitive, and mental disabilities are provided with the materials, art education, and support to develop a professional body of work. Project Onward is a program of the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs.