Pamela Council USA, b. 1986


Pamela Council is a multidisciplinary artist whose work explores a conceptual framework Council calls “blaxidermy”—a blend of taxidermy and blacksploitation—which includes surreal and uncanny forms and an assortment of found and fabricated materials related to the culture of adornment.


Many of Council’s works, such as her first large-scale work of public art, A Fountain For Survivors, which incorporated 400,000 acrylic fingernails, evoke associations with dedications to the deceased or monuments to the past. A playful and vivid color palette lends the work a whimsical presence, while darkly humorous materials, such as synthetic nails, crack pipes, red drink, and sneaker silicone, alludes to a predatory commercial culture that trades in superficiality and sickness.


“Blaxidermy addresses Black fungibility,” says Council, “like asking, ‘Why are so many Black people valued after life rather than during our lives?’”


Council earned a BA from Williams College and an MFA from Columbia University, and is a recipient of a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant, Andy Warhol Foundation Grant, MacArthur Travel Grant, and Harpo Foundation Grant for Visual Artists, among others. Council’s work has been exhibited extensively, including at the Studio Museum in Harlem, NY; Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, MA; Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, OR; Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Detroit, MI; New Museum for Contemporary Art, New York, NY; African American Museum, Philadelphia, PA; and Southampton Historical Museum, NY, among others. Council has been Artist-in-Residence at MacDowell Colony, Red Bull Arts, Bemis Center, Rush Arts, MANA Contemporary, Signal Culture, Mass MoCA, and Wassaic Project.