Artist Lawrence 'LAW' Parker III Keeps The Family Close With 'Freeman Revival: Inherited Past' Exhibit
Art serves as a reflection of the artist and a window of endless possibilities for others. Enter Lawrence "LAW" Parker III—a Roc Nation A&R, self-taught contemporary abstract expressionist painter, musician, and curator of culture. LAW displayed his art at the Black Wall Street Gallery in NYC from October 27, 2022, thru November 5, 2022. The exhibit, titled FREEMAN REVIVAL: INHERITED PAST, paid homage to his family, especially his grandfather Rev. Willie Freeman Sr., as his sermons provided the inspiration for this series of paintings.
Jazz music played throughout the gallery and matched the sense of calm received while taking in the family-inspired art, which is a direct reflection of LAW's calming presence.
The faces of his artwork were left empty on purpose because LAW wants the consumer to fill in the blanks with their family because thinking further than you can see is a main principle of art.
At the onset of the pandemic, LAW took a trip to Michaels and purchased canvases and other painting supplies to begin what we now know as FREEMAN REVIVAL. To the surprise of his wife, Dr. Jessica Clemons, MD, their kitchen transformed into a makeshift studio . Eventually, moving to the basement, LAW would paint this collection while listening to tapes of his grandfather preaching and recollecting childhood memories of his New Orleans upbringing. Who knew he'd cook more when the kitchen closed?
Gold adorns each of the paintings on the tapestry because LAW's grandfather would say, "We are golden!" and his grandmother would often wear gold. There's a deep meaning behind each of the pieces in the collection, especially Jubilee All, as it depicts a young man playing the trumpet. If you know anything about New Orleans, music is the soul of the city. More than that, LAW explains how music played an instrumental role during his coming of age because as he would practice playing his trumpet, scores of children would simultaneously practice playing their instrument until they would all converge on a corner to form an impromptu band.
Still, LAW was uncertain about his art seeing the day of light.
While talking to LAW, it was hard to ignore the parallels of his wife being for him who he is for other artists and the theme of family from his work behind the scenes with Roc Nation, aka Roc La Familia, to his work as an artist in which he credits his family for inspiring. On October 29, 2022, during his artist talk at Black Wall Street Gallery, LAW spoke about his grandfather's influence on him and their community in totality.
You were hesitant to release any of your art. Where did that stem from, and how did you overcome it?
Growing up in New Orleans, self-promotion was viewed as a detriment, and I've battled with that throughout the trajectory of my life and career. Also, I'm so used to working behind the scenes with artists and helping guide them to success that I didn't understand how to actually help myself. I don't have a manager or anyone thinking as I create, so it became sort of a role reversal, and if releasing my art was left to me? It would take years because I'd overthink it and keep working on it, which I did! [laughs] My wife pushed me as far as possible, in the best way, which gave me a morale and confidence booster to be at peace that this exhibit was completed.
You speak glowingly about your family and grandfather. Is there anything he instilled in you that you incorporate into your day-to-day life?
Proverbs 22:6! "Train up a child in the way you want them to go." My grandfather would recite that quote to me so often that I memorized it by the time I was 8 or 9 years old. It's probably the most important thing I took from him because I see and feel it with my own children. Since my son Brilliant was born in 2020, I've been with him 100 percent of the time; I've not spent one day without him! I've passed up on trips, meetings, and whatever else you can think of because I prefer to be with my son, so I can train him up during his formative years and follow suit with what my grandfather did for me. If my grandfather had to be at work at 8am and I had to be at school at 7am, he would wake up at 5am to drop me off at school and then go to work. Those are the types of things I vividly remember him doing, even down to his teaching me how to tie a tie, and they've stayed with me as much as any of the words he spoke.
How would you define art?
Art, to me, means ever-evolving! I mean that in a figurative and literal sense because if anyone purchases a piece from me, hangs it in their home, and sees someone or something in that painting, they can call me, and I'll add to it as they see fit. It's literally evolving because it's incomplete, as we are as people. What I mean by that is that we're always learning, becoming, and growing. When I see art, I see art as a multifaceted and evolving machine of what we all strive to be in life. Life is our canvas!
Artwork from the FREEMAN REVIVAL: INHERITED PAST exhibit can be purchased on Artsy. The Black Wall Street Gallery is located at 555 West 25th Street, New York, NY, and is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10am to 6pm.