Targets and Trophies, Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD
Cervidae, Catalyst Contemporary, Baltimore, MD
I Love To Hate You, IA&A at Hillyer, Washington, DC
Ironed Out, Bowie State University Galleries, Bowie, MD
Damon Arhos, Agnes Moorehead & Me (No. 11/Figure Portrait), acrylic on canvas, 84 x 72 inches, 2020
Lives and works in Washington, DC.
Texas, United States, 1967
MFA in Studio Art, MICA, MD
BA in Journalism, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
Damon Arhos is an interdisciplinary artist who uses pop culture references fused with the personal to examine social contexts of gender and sexuality. Subjects—often self-referential—in everyday situations are appropriated and repeated to explore multifaceted concepts with a frequent focus on issues significant to the LGBTQ+ community. Laying himself and his own sense of identity bare, Arhos challenges viewers to find both the differences and commonalities among all of us. It is only by embracing our differences can we fulfill our potential and hope to understand and accept the complexities of each other, our personal interactions, assumptions, and beliefs.
Driven by an interest in portraiture—faces are the one thing all humans share—Arhos has developed expressions of the self that are merged with historical figures who have significance in the LGBTQ+ community. In a recent body of work, the artist modeled paintings from hybridized digital collages that conflate his face with that of actor Agnes Moorehead—an iconic figure in the gay community. He turned the portrait into a symbol of absorbing different identities into oneself in order to expand the possibility of a more open concept of self, one without boundaries or constraints, norms or rules. Visually the paintings draw us in; the merged faces are reductive and colorful, playful and serious, objective and subjective. They speak of openness, love, inclusion, uniqueness, as well as hope for a day when one can be whoever one wants to be.
In a more recent body of work, Arhos used the trophy buck as a central element, something that was omnipresent for him growing up in Texas. For Arhos, the trophy buck represents complicated feelings about masculinity, a deep discomfort at harming living creatures, and family expectations, as well as pride, strength, and honesty. The myriad layers of identity inherent in masculinity are wrapped up in one symbol.
Arhos is a Texan living in Washington, D.C. He earned a BA from Texas A & M University, College Station, Texas, and an MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, Maryland. His works can be found in the collections of the citizenM Capitol hotel, Washington, D.C., and the Matthew Shepard Foundation, Denver, Colorado, as well as in numerous private collections.