Bennie Herron’s creative output in poetry, painting, and social advocacy reflects on the often paradoxical conditions of being. His poetry presents a prismatic lens on his upbringing as a Black man, including close observations of the familial, interpersonal, and cultural forces that have shaped him. In these poems, the anecdotal may expand into ruminations on Biblical passages, or tales of the trials and joys of his adolescence may give way to fiery indictments of systemic problems such as racism, colonialism, and the perceptions of Black men in society. Herron’s verse style is informed in part by the socially conscious Hip Hop artists of the 1990s and poets of the Black Arts Movement of the late 1960s, among a myriad of other sources.

Herron’s paintings channel and concentrate the currents of his poetry. Using a consistent formal vocabulary, he depicts emotionally charged busts of figures in dramatic contours, filled with dynamic and often fractured interiors. He has characterized these larger-than-life figures as “mirrors.” Not exactly self-portraits, the figures reflect and refract emotional states yet are self-contained and usually stoic in their demeanor. With the formal immediacy of religious icons remixed with the confrontational style of street art, each figure seems to be role-playing or perhaps literalizing a double consciousness. They flicker between anonymity and archetype. Existential in bearing, they present a multiplicity of possible selves.

About the Artist

Herron was born in San Diego, CA to a blue-collar family. He describes his upbringing as a challenging but fulfilling childhood rooted in unconditional love. The memories of his youth continue to be the undercurrent of his paintings, writings and social advocacy. Herron has an MFA in Creative Writing National University in San Diego, he has published three books of poetry, and has performed across the country. Additionally, Herron has had a career in the social service field for 25 years, working with a variety of communities, including public schools, prisons, and universities. He currently works with Fairfax County as a Father Engagement Specialist. He lives and works in Manassas, VA.

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