Devin Troy Strother (b. 1986, West Covina, California) uses paper dolls and chil-dren’s storybook–style imagery to make works that are immediately appealing, their bright colors, playtime format, and freewheeling story lines effectively linking pleasure and African American imagery in ways not often attempted, much less achieved. The sidesplitting laughter that spills from Strother’s cut-and-paste-and-paint pictures allows him to broach loaded subjects, like blood, money, and sex—or race, class, and gender—without getting heavy-handed or glossing over difficult issues, like race relations in the United States, the legacy of slavery, and the enduring trauma of institutionalized injustice. The various ways various people stand out from the crowd and disappear into it is Strother’s great subject. That dynamic takes place throughout his paintings, sculptures, installations, and videos. Boundaries shift. Assumptions crumble. Expectations get derailed. Identities mix. People are free to be themselves. And then, maybe, someone else.

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