Barry Jenkins’ intentional storytelling with black bodies at the forefront; Kehinde Wiley’s re-imaginative imagery of black culture; Basquiat’s unwavering confidence in his artistic vision; Kerby’s innovative creativity and unapologetic love for his community; and Tramaine Raphael Gray’s unique life has molded him into the artist he is today. When asked “who are your inspirations?” Gray provided these names, but ultimately said that “nobody can give me the keys to the kingdom I want, I have to build the kingdom myself.” As a queer black creative, Gray is an ever-evolving storyteller through his art.
Gray grew up in a community that at first was not the most accepting of his identity. During his upbringing, he struggled with finding his voice and this led him on his journey of discovering what it means to “[be] a black man in today’s society.” At UNCSA he joined the Artists of Color, a multicultural student led organization — which provides a safe and supportive place for creatives of color while challenging the school to be more aware and proactive in regards to prevalent issues facing marginalized communities. After abruptly graduating from UNCSA amid the COVID-19 pandemic, he's focused on becoming a freelance artist — pursuing new endeavors and creating new works. Whether that being directing, or curating, he has created numerous successful works, which you can see below.
Profile written by Aron Stornaiuolo (he/him/his)
May 17, 2021