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Fire claims studio of Atlanta artist and Emory alum Fahamu Pecou

Emory Report | Sept. 13, 2018

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Acclaimed Atlanta scholar-artist Fahamu Pecou, who received a PhD from Emory’s Laney Graduate School in May, vows that his art “will be reborn from these ashes stronger than ever.”

Acclaimed Atlanta scholar-artist Fahamu Pecou, who received a PhD from Emory’s Laney Graduate School in May, was traveling abroad last week when he was notified that his local art studio was destroyed by fire.

According to social media posts, Pecou was out of the country when he learned that his studio had been “completely decimated by fire.” Fortunately, no one was in the building at the time, Pecou wrote, “but years of work, supplies, tools, and fond memories lay in ashes when I finally had a chance to see what’s left of the space.”

The fire broke out about 7 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 8, and the cause is still under investigation, Pecou said.

A rising star in the contemporary art world, Pecou’s award-winning visual works have attracted a wide audience, from solo shows in galleries around the globe to his large-scale public art installations (murals) for several Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) stations and the acquisition of one of his paintings by the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. 

In recent years, Pecou found an intellectual home at Emory, where he was able to use his art and scholarship to study representations of black masculinity in popular culture. Earlier this year, he completed his doctoral degree with a dissertation that built upon the power of both words and images. “Do or Die: Affect, Ritual, Resistance” embeds original artwork, video and performance within a traditional text-based framework.

Now on display at the College of Charleston’s Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, “Do or Die: Affect, Ritual, Resistance” is scheduled to be installed at Emory’s Michael C. Carlos Museum in January 2019. The solo exhibition explores the state of black existence today, aspects of both life and death. 

He also earned attention last year when he was asked to create a work of art commemorating the inauguration of Emory President Claire E. Sterk. His work, titled, “The Phoenix,” was presented during campus events preceding Sterk’s inaugural ceremony.

As for rebuilding and moving forward, “honestly, it’s a big much right now — a lot to process,” Pecou reported through social media. “For now, I don’t know quite what is needed and I still don’t know what exactly happened. However, I do know what will happen: I’ll be reborn from these ashes stronger than ever.”