Claudio Eshun (aka Don Claude)

MFA ’21 Photography

I reflect on and reimagine scenes from my own personal history: I see images from Ghana and Italy and more recently from America. I incorporate all these visual languages into the images I create. As a once-stateless person who had to learn how to navigate institutions, cultures and languages, my work merges my distinct identities as an African, black, hypervisible, and invisible man in America. Performance, gesture and costume allow me to conjure the people and places of my life. The tableaux I create provide a stage to elicit emotional registers of individual experience and the specific concerns of black individuals from a multiplicity of backgrounds. I am in conversation with my family and friends – I listen closely to stories about their experiences and lives that both overlap with and differ from my own – I am asked to challenge, yet be sensitive to, the stereotypes in Western, African and afro-descendant portraiture. By assembling photographs of family and friends — found, collected, and made — I explore my multiple pasts and possibilities for the future.

Claudio Eshun aka “Don Claude” was born in Accra, Ghana, and lived in Vicenza, Italy until 9 before growing up in Worcester, MA with his mother and two younger siblings. Don Claude’s work was recently exhibited at the Beacon Street Gallery. He was shortlisted for the 11th Kassel Dummy Award in 2020. His work “Super Mom” is held in the collections of the MassArt Art Museum.