Titus Kaphar USA, b. 1976


Titus Kaphar is a multidisciplinary artist whose paintings, sculptures, and installations examine the history of representation by transforming its styles and mediums with formal innovations to emphasize the physicality and dimensionality of the canvas and materials themselves. His practice seeks to dislodge history from its status as the “past” in order to unearth its contemporary relevance.


Kaphar cuts, crumples, shrouds, shreds, stitches, tars, twists, binds, erases, breaks, tears, and turns his paintings and sculptures, reconfiguring them into works that reveal unspoken truths about history. Open areas become active absences; walls enter into the portraits; stretcher bars are exposed; structures that are typically invisible underneath, behind, or inside are laid bare to reveal the interiors of the work. Kaphar’s aim is to reveal something of what has been lost.


Kaphar received an MFA from the Yale School of Art and is a distinguished recipient of numerous prizes and awards, including a Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Fellowship in 2014, Creative Capital grant in 2015, Robert R. Rauschenberg Artist as Activist grant in 2016, Art for Justice Fund grant in 2018, and the 2018 Rappaport Prize. Kaphar’s work has been included in solo exhibitions at the Seattle Art Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, MoMA PS1, and the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, among others. His work is included in the collections of Crystal Bridges Museum, Bentonville, AK; 21C Museum Collection; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT; and Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), Miami, FL, among others.


In late 2014, Kaphar created a painting in response to protests in Ferguson, MO, following the shooting of Michael Brown that was featured in Time magazine. He gave a TED talk at the annual conference in Vancouver 2017, where he completed a whitewash painting, Shifting the Gaze, onstage. Kaphar’s commitment to social engagement has led him to move beyond traditional modes of artistic expression to establish NXTHVN, an arts incubator and residency program based in New Haven, CT. Through intergenerational mentorship, professional development, and cross-sector collaboration, NXTHVN connects early-career artists and creative professionals with the resources and networks vital to their success. Now in its second year of operation, NXTHVN provides an alternative model of professional development and mentorship in the arts, and encourages artists, art professionals, and local entrepreneurs to expand New Haven’s growing creative community. Supporters include the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Stonesthrow Fund, and the RISC Foundation. For more information on NXTHVN, visit nxthvn.com.