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Esteban Jefferson

Columbia University

Understopped (Ashton)
oil on canvas


Tell us about the work that you have submitted.

Understopped is an ongoing series of portraits of my Black and Latinx friends. The paintings in this series create a relationship between the viewer and the subject through the gazes of both parties.

How do you describe your work and practice?

My work combines traditional tools of figurative painting with conceptual ideas about value and mastery. With these, I am able to question and challenge social and political structures in my practice.

What motivated you to apply to the XL Catlin Art Prize?

I want to show my work in broader contexts and engage in new dialogues. I would like to connect with diverse communities and share the conversations that surround my work with new audiences.

What is your background?

I was born and raised in New York to a White American mom and Black Panamanian dad. My work is a reflection of my life in this city and of the tensions that informed my upbringing.