Category Storytelling

In Conversation With Ridge Levene

Art is a powerful tool of expression. The hopes we have in the past can shape our futures. The ability to create something new or better depends on our ability to imagine it. These ideas and the prompt of what it means to dream while Black are at the core of Union Station’s art exhibit, Black Dreams and Aspirations, sponsored by TD, co-curated in partnership with MakeRoom Inc.

We were delighted to speak with Ridge Levene, one of the artists for the exhibit, about what Black Dreams and Aspirations means to him. His featured artwork, entitled Interconnect, is an emotional and personal representation of how a Black man manifests his goals through interpersonal reflection. Through this piece, Ridge wanted to showcase that there is more than meets the eye to him and all black men alike.

What was the inspiration behind your art showcased in the Black Dreams and Aspirations exhibit?

The inspiration was a reflection on my own life, and the trials and tribulations I went through. When I saw the open submission for this exhibit, I knew right away I wanted to do a piece. The art piece is about how our younger selves looked to the future and had high expectations of “oh I want to do this and that”. However, when you grow up, life doesn’t pan out the way you expect. So, the piece is about being able to talk to your younger self and help them plan their life out. This is interpreted by the broken circle in the painting. Once I had the idea of how I wanted the piece to look and the message behind it, I was able to execute it. I’m happy with the execution of the piece.

What message or emotion do you hope viewers take away from experiencing your artwork?

I hope that everybody takes their own perspective and interprets it to coincide with their life. My artwork is my perspective on my life, but I want you to interpret it in your own way.

What inspired you to become an artist and how does your identity influence your work?

I started drawing when I was 5 or 6. I wasn’t into sports, I was drawn to art. It’s always been a good way to get my feelings out – whether I’m mad or sad, I’m able to pour out my feelings into my artwork. And then I get the best artwork possible out of it.

How would you define your artistic style?

It varies – sometimes I’m expressionistic, sometimes I like to do realism. I’m a very mixed bag when it comes to my art style. This piece is much more expressionist. You can feel the passion, and I’m very proud of it. I feel myself often going back to this style of artwork.

Do you think that art has the power to inspire change in society?

Oh, of course. At the end of the day, art is subjective. If we’re able to keep an open mind about art, we’re able to keep an open mind about everything else. With an open mind, anything is possible.

Thank you, Ridge, for taking the time to speak with us about your artwork showcased in the Black Dreams and Aspirations exhibit. You can find Ridge’s art in the West Wing of Union Station from now until August. Stop by today to experience it yourself.

Click here for more information about Union’s Black History Month exhibit.