WEB EXTRA: Artist Michael Vasquez

In his first solo exhibition at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami-based artist Michael Vasquez explores street gang culture and symbols in his portraits of friends and mentors of his childhood: gang members. Here, Vasquez talks about a work called The High Point of Peace, one in a new series titled The Upholding and Protection of the Crown (2007).

Kansas City, MO – Michael Vasquez: Authority Figures, October 5 - December 30, 2007 at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. From the exhibition essay written by Christopher Cook, Curator: "The central and the highest point on the crown is represented in Vasquez's The High Point of Peace. As the centerpiece for this series, Vasquez portrays the gang's leader,
Ro, as the personification of the most cherished of the five principles. Inked with tattoos and wearing a red T-shirt, Ro stands stoically as he flashes two LK (Latin King) hand signs that are
joined together to form the symbolic five-point crown. His stern, piercing gaze exudes power, confidence, and fearlessness qualities essential for a leader's ability to maintain group solidarity and peace."