Tenjin Ikeda is an Afro-Puerto Rican artist born and raised in Brooklyn, New York on October 30, 1968. At a very young age learned the importance of tradition and heritage from his mother. He taught himself how to draw at an early age and he was hooked, he has been seriously making art for 30 plus years using the various mediums of painting, sculpture, and printmaking. He attended the School of Visual Arts in New York first focusing on graphic design and ultimately Fine Arts where he felt more freedom to express himself. It was at the Art Students League that he discovered printmaking, which has been his focus for the past 20 years. “It is my desire to continue to visibly show the richness of my ancestry to the world.” He has various works in private collections in the US, Canada, Mexico, Bahamas as well as acquisitions by The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The Print Club of Albany, and the Art Student’s League. Tenjin’s work has been featured as cover art and illustrations for various books. He will be included in “Modern Printmaking” an up coming book of 30 contemporary printmakers by Sylvie Covey to be released in February of 2016.
Tenjin, also worked for 6 years as an artist assistant to Richard Artschwager and with artist Keith Haring on a mural project Mr. Haring did at Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn, NY. He has participated in-group shows in different parts of the United States, Ireland, Japan as well as Spain and Australia.
My vision and goals as an artist are first and foremost selfish ones. They are an attempt to find meaning in a reality or world that doesn’t always make sense to me, so that a certain level of ‘normalcy’ is kept. My images are also an external expression of the internal dialogues and ones that I have with various people in my day-to-day life. There is an element of storytelling with in the images that I create, from sacred myths and oral traditions that I was raised with. At all times there is this expression that remains in the forefront of my mind that “We stand on the shoulders of those who come before us.” It is something that we like to use in sound bites often today however it is something that was instilled in me since I was a child. It is my attempt to share a piece of my culture, a part of the language that I grew up with, which is often viewed as novelty, fetishized, or looked at as inferior not worthy of expression like our European counterparts. It is my intention to include the richness of my cultural selves, which ultimately have its roots from the continent of Africa.