Malcolm Corley’s paintings represent a ritual of rendering photographic selfies into painted form. Not only do these selfie paintings represent Corley’s own embodiment, but they also pointedly return the viewer’s gaze—a potent crip ritual in a world where disabled people are often treated as objects.
The exhibition includes two examples of Corley’s self-portrait paintings, Untitled #1 and Hoodie Self-Portrait. For the #CripRitual exhibition, Malcolm Corley collaborated with his mother, Maria Thompson Corley, a trained composer, to create an audio track, Mal Sounds, that offers an interpretive access element for the two self-portraits in the exhibition, and stands alone as a collaborative audio portrait of Malcolm.
2019. Gouache on paper, 48 x 30.5 x 2 inches.
Written Image Description:
Untitled #1 has two abstract male figures (self-portraits of the artist) with slightly tilted heads whose faces are various shades of brown. The larger one, in the center of the canvas, has closed eyes and parted lips. The smaller one, situated a bit to the left, has open eyes that seem to stare straight at the viewer. The smaller figure’s wrists are crossed in front of its groin. Fern-like plants with a profusion of leaves of varying shades from army green to chartreuse with tiny spots of red, are behind the figures’ heads. A dark brown flower pot with white spots, seen from above so that it seems to jut outwards, is juxtaposed in front of the black t-shirts and light gray pants both figures are wearing. Long, thin leaves in shades similar to the ferns and a single spot of scarlet, radiate from the center of the pot, the longest pointing towards the bottom of the painting. The top ¾ of the background has rust-colored outer sections with long, white rectangle between them, towards the left side of the painting. Two parallel black lines are on the left edge of the white rectangle. Below it, a thin strip of bare canvas extends to the bottom of the painting with a dark gray strip that touches the open-eyed figure to its right. On the right side of the ferns below the rust color, there is a black section, somewhat rectangular backdrop edged with white. The bottom quarter of the piece has primarily bare canvas on either side and a thin wash of black paint in the center, with a few drips of light rust and black. The only details from the upper part of the painting that continues to the lower are three of the potted plant’s leaves. No lines in the painting are completely straight. // Photograph by Michelle Peek Photography*.
2018. Watercolour on paper, 17.5 x 24 inches.
Written Image Description:
Hoodie Self-Portrait is an abstract watercolor of the artist in one of his favorite zippered jackets, rendered in various shades of medium blue and black with a light gray strip down the middle. Malcolm’s hair is a short, black, uneven afro. The left third of his face is white with grayish-brown shadows around his eyes, on his smile line, and under his mouth. His nose on that side of his face is outlined in pencil, without any shading. The right two-thirds of his face is cinnamon brown with grayish-brown shadows around the eyes, cheek and chin. Three furrows cross his forehead. They are shadowed in black on the right side of his face and in light brown on the other. They appear three-dimensional. His upper lip is purple and his lower lip is pink, with a red line bisecting the lower lip and a small red circle in the center of the upper lip. His ears are almost without detail. He is looking upwards, his eyes framed by thick, winged eyebrows. His facial expression is mild, perhaps a bit sleepy. His head begins 1/3 from the top of the painting, and the entire background is white. // Photograph by Michelle Peek Photography*.
Mal: My name is Malcolm Corley.
Mom: Say it again, louder
Mal: My name is Malcolm!
I like to sing, drums, visit friends, go to dances, play pinball, go to church, watch videos and paint.
My favorite paints are watercolors.
My favorite food is pizza.
I also like pancakes and fried chicken.
I like to fold towels, vacuum and take out the garbage when I’m home.
Mom: Anything else you’d like to say?
Mom: What else would you like to say?
Mal: I love to be outside in nature, or go places where I can wave at people.
I like to cover my head with a hood or a blanket, even in the summer.
My favorite movie is Lion King. I love Disney movies, and my favorite place is Disneyland.
I also love Christmas movies.
I don’t like getting up early, or having to rush.
Mom: Was that okay?
Written Description of Audio:
The piece begins with Malcolm humming. The script starts soon after. When Malcolm says that he likes to sing, we hear him warming up, with his mom prompting him and playing the notes he is vocalizing on the piano. Then that sounds fades into the background, continuing until the end of the piece. When he mentions drums, the sound of his drumming can be heard faintly. Three rhythms are played: a jazzy cymbal pattern, a more pop pattern when he mentions that he likes to go to dances, and later, a calypso beat. Every time he mentions something new, a different Malcolm sound is layered in. Most of them are verbal stims, one track is of him laughing, one is of him and his mother walking outside on the gravel in the labyrinth at their church. Underneath, there are three tracks on the piano. One is played on the piano’s strings, one is on the keyboard (with some jazz chords and other figures that come from the pattern of the vocal warmup), and one is primarily in the bass range of the piano.
The large degree of sensory information hopefully gives some idea of what the composer (his mom) has been led to believe about autism–that it can feel like there are lots of stimuli to process, and yet people on the spectrum are expected to respond to spoken words instantly. The piece also represents the experience of being with Mal, since sometimes his repetitive stims can test the listener’s patience. The prompts at the beginning were left in to represent that even when Malcolm wants to do something, it can take a while for him to start. In the end, though, he presents as a happy guy most of the time, so it seemed fitting to end in a clearly major key, with a cymbal crash as an exclamation point.
Malcolm Corley in Process
Written Image Description:
Photo of Malcolm Corley wearing a white shirt with blue and green tie dye markings. He is a young Black man with a short, black afro. He is facing the side, holding a canvas with his left hand. At the centre of this canvas is a painting depicting two dark-skinned abstract male figures in front of fern-like plants. Corley is looking down at the painting holding a paintbrush against it with his right hand. Behind Corley is a larger canvas with a pencil image of an abstract male figure in front of fern-like plants.
Malcolm Corley’s Website: www.malcolmstiles.com
Malcolm Corley’ Facebook: www.facebook.com/malcolmstiles99/
Maclolm Corley’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/malcolmstiles/?hl=en