J Chris Neal
J Christopher Neal is a “native son” of Detroit Michigan. The son of two talented artists – Harold L. Neal, a celebrated painter and Claire Neal, a classically trained vocalist -Christopher is a painter, and began his formal art training at Mumford High School and at the Center (now College) for Creative Studies’ Saturday Workshops. He later went on to study Fine Art, African-American Studies, and Women’s Studies at Eastern Michigan University. After completing his undergraduate studies he enrolled in Howard University’s Master’s of Fine Arts program, not quite sure of his prospects but open to the journey.
Christopher comes out of an arts education, leadership training, and youth development background, which he began cultivating shortly after arriving in New York City. He has developed integrated arts curriculum for several NYC schools, taught in classrooms across all five Boroughs and Connecticut; and is currently the Director of Youth Programs and Initiatives for Coro New York Leadership Center, where he oversees three leadership training / youth development programs, and two Training and support initiatives, designed specifically for high school age youth and the adult allies who work directly with them; towards the goal of bringing more participatory youth voice to city agencies and government institutions whose policy and practices directly or indirectly impact the lives of NYC Youth.
Christopher is also the founder of FluidBiDesign / MenKIND a support and advocacy community for persons of African descent who conceive of their personal identities and modes of expression as ‘fluid’. As a result of his work in the community, creating safe-spaces for fluid, Bi-identified, bisexual, and bi-curious men of African descent to discuss and process their lives and experiences via MenKIND, this year Christopher was selected as the first ever openly fluid Bi-identified Grand Marshal in the 45 year history of the NYC Pride March.
I think the “story” behind why an artist is drawn to a given set of ideas, an approach, this or that material either becomes more convoluted over the years or real real simple… Sex, sexuality, manhood, masculinity, myth, love “the incessant search for self admits the noise” and ultimately transcendence… have been central to my art and life’s journey for as long as I can remember. These are a few of those stories.