A Conversation With Jamal Cyrus

by Peter Lucas July 17, 2021

Jamal Cyrus in his studio, Houston, 2021. Photo: Peter Lucas

Though his work as both a solo artist and a member of the collective Otabenga Jones & Associates has been widely exhibited, Houston-based artist Jamal Cyrus had not had a comprehensive museum survey until his exhibition The End of My Beginning opened last month at the Blaffer Art Museum in Houston; it will travel to the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles in 2022. Great things are being written about the show, and the forthcoming exhibition catalogue will feature essays and an interview delving thoroughly into the contexts, referenced histories, and larger importance of this impressive body of work.  

Jamal and I are longtime friends, and with our emergence from the Covid shutdown coinciding with the opening of this mid-career museum survey, it seemed like a good time for the two of us to sit down and catch up. Recorded recently in Jamal’s studio, this hour-long podcast is a casual and rambling conversation in which we circle around some of his background and early influences, his creative approach and process, and how he sees himself at this transition point in his career.

Of course, music is referenced throughout, as it’s a primary influence and conceptual frame for both of us. Because of this conversation’s informal flow and its focus a bit more on the artist than the art, this will likely be more revealing to those who are already somewhat familiar with and interested in Jamal’s work. (If you haven’t already, see the show!) 

To play the podcast, click on the orange play button below. You can also listen to it here. You can also find Glasstire on Apple Podcasts.

“For me, collage is based on collision. And I think that collision is indebted to the chance encounter.”- Jamal Cyrus


“Jamal Cyrus: The End of My Beginning” is on view at Blaffer Art Museum, University of Houston through Sept. 19, 2021. 

Please note: Jamal Cyrus has also curated a companion exhibition, ‘Levels and Layers: An Artist’s Reflections on Third Ward,’ featuring a mix of influential historic and contemporary works, on view at Houston’s TSU’s University Museum through September 19.

Layers & Levels takes a historical look at the varied art making registers that have taken place within the neighborhood of Third Ward (including Riverside Terrace, Sugar Hill, the Cuney Homes, and the Bottoms), from the proto Afro-futurist teachings of Dr. John Biggers and the TSU school, to the social practice strategies of Rick Lowe’s Project Row Houses, to the self-taught visionary yard artists that once thrived in the area, and all gradations between. 

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