Meet The Curator Bringing Art Exhibitions to The Digital Realm
Kadeem Fletcher‘s work may lie within a familiar field, but this trailblazer is seeking to reshape the role of the art curator for generations to come. In 2014, Fletcher launched the first Digital Madrid, an online art showcase that featured 20 multidisciplinary artists debuting exclusive sets. These artists were handpicked by Fletcher, and since then, he has curated eight more installments of the series while exploring themes of femininity, social justice, and racial inequality.
Hailing from NYC, Fletcher has been able to interact with many up-and-coming artists who are now producing recognizable work on a widespread level. We caught up with Fletcher before the release of Digital Madrid 9, his latest installment to the growing series. Fletcher reflected on the progress of Digital Madrid, the future of art forms in digital media, as well as his personal development through providing a platform for artists to thrive within.
How did Digital Madrid begin?
I was interning at Complex a few years ago and I noticed I had a wide variety of friends who were visual artists. At the time, I felt like the majority of them weren’t getting the proper recognition for everything they were doing and I wanted to try and change that.
How have you improved your process with each installment?
Throughout the years, Digital Madrid has steadily grown due to my curiosity to improve it, and to seek out different artists while experimenting with different themes. Now, my focus is making sure the artists are right for the format and perfect for the installment I’m inviting them to. I’m also always trying to find diamonds in the rough to feature in Digital Madrid.
Do you call yourself a curator? How else do you see yourself?
Curator is one title I take pride in because I understand how to bring people together and embrace each other. Most of these artists aren’t exposed to each other until they’re featured on the platform. I do also see myself as someone who is trying to mold the present to create the future. The foundation for most advancements in the world are already set—we’re just trying to make things better, little by little.
How does Digital Madrid compare to more familiar online formats?
I think it’s innovated upon the general mainframes of entities such as tumblr and Instagram because both of these things thrive on appealing to the visual senses of the viewer. Digital Madrid is more focused in its curation so that people find a group of deserving artists who have combined for one outstanding showcase. With Digital Madrid, I’m also able to give back to the community in a special way by utilizing the instantaneous factor of the internet while giving the viewer the experience of a gallery.
Do you feel like you’ve been able to capture that element with Digital Madrid?
Many people have told me that I allowed them to travel through an entire art gallery without them even leaving the comfort of their home. I think that makes Digital Madrid special because it allows anyone to witness this collection of art from their phones or computers. It’s truly astonishing when you think of it.
Being from NYC, you can visit some of the finest galleries in the world, but is there one place that you keep finding yourself?
Truthfully, I love the MET because it makes you feel as if you’re traveling through different ages, eras and places. It’s such a wonderful feeling because you feel different energies throughout the many rooms the MET has. I think that’s the experience I want for Digital Madrid, for people to feel as if they’re traveling through a digital world of so many different styles of art.
What mediums of art do you try to incorporate within Digital Madrid?
I try to be open to new techniques and forms of art that I may not have been exposed to before. I’m a big fan of illustration and 3-D rendering at the moment. My taste definitely changes from time to time because there’s just such a huge melting pot of art out there.
Art produced through 3-D rendering is becoming more and more intriguing—how do you see its potential, and what other emerging mediums do you have your eye on?
Yeah I think 3-D and 4-D rendering will boom within the next couple years once more people start to learn these techniques. They’re very difficult to master but they hold so much power. Also drone photography will become very popular and it’s already in the early stages of receiving more attention because it gives us different vantage points to viewing the world. I would like for people to start pushing GIFs again. I feel like it’s become something that’s mainly used for jokes but it has so much promise, too.
Which artists that you have featured are you the most proud of?
Henock Sileshi, Bryan Rivera and Travis Brothers. They were there when I first started Digital Madrid and they supported throughout the entire process. They helped so much, from branding to submitting exclusive sets. Being able to see them now working with Post Malone, BRCKHMPTN, Nicki Minaj and more, is a very gratifying feeling.
What have been the most memorable editions of Digital Madrid so far?
The first-ever installment, Digital Madrid 1 was extremely special because I was finally able to bring to life what I had in my head. It was also inspiring because so many artists believed in it before they ever saw what it was. Madrid Femme was important to me because it exclusively featured female artists, who I felt were underrepresented in the previous installments. It was also one of the most vibrant exhibitions yet. Mission 7 was a statement piece, as I challenged everyone to create a set around a socially-charged issue and the results were amazing. I don’t think people truly appreciated it and understood how brave these artists had to be to express themselves in this way, but I’ll always hold that one dear to my heart.
What else do you think internet culture misses these days?
People create fake personas just to try and impress others. If they would take more time to fall in love with who they truly are, they wouldn’t be worried about approval from others. People just need to be themselves, and the ones who are in the spotlight need to set the right examples because it trickles down to the public—especially the ones in search of guidance.
What have you learned about yourself through the process of developing Digital Madrid over the years?
Throughout the years, it has been my resilience. Early on, I thought Digital Madrid would instantly be a major success because the idea was so genuine. However, I soon realized that everyone wouldn’t help me, that the majority of blogs wouldn’t cover it if there wasn’t a big name attached to it and also some artists wouldn’t even reply to my invitation to be apart of Digital Madrid. All of this and more but I’ve stayed the course. I learned that there is no one as passionate as I am about Digital Madrid. So at times, it has been an uphill battle but with every win, my belief is restored and renewed. I didn’t foresee myself learning so much and building relationships with so many different artists but for the most part, it is exactly what I envisioned it would be.
What is the most important thing about Digital Madrid moving forward?
Exposure… the more eyes on it, the better the chance for the artists to receive opportunities that can propel their artistry or assist in their careers. To hear people talk about how important Digital Madrid is, really helps inspire and spark that flame inside of me. Artists, themselves, have always been extremely grateful throughout the years and it truly fulfills me when I feel their appreciation. For Digital Madrid, I have to continue to focus on the artists, rather than getting caught up with hype. I have to stay true to myself because I’ve taken it this far… I can only imagine where I can take it, and where it will take me.
Featured image courtesy of NV Billl
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