Jamal Cyrus

(Born 1973 in Houston, TX; Lives and works in Houston, TX)

I attribute the beginnings of my interest in visual art to skate boarding in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Stickers, graphics in magazines and the fashion aspects of skate boarding, all of it together caught my attention. I started drawing.

I had always had exposure to instant cameras. My dad worked for Polaroid. A Diana camera, a plastic lens camera, started me looking at the world. I took photography in undergrad. I wasn’t interested in taking pictures as much as I was in working with imagery, thinking about images, composing an image. I was collecting and scanning images whether record covers, magazines or common images. This approach of archiving and collecting has stayed with me to this day.

I did a print making residency in London that was run by a photographer. I learned a lot from him. I was there for 2 or 3 weeks. That really helped me to understand or to see the differences between black American culture and black cultures in other parts of the world. It was the first time I was ever exposed to those ideas not just read from a book, but experienced.

–Conversation on June 16, 2020

Listen to our conversation here:


Selected Image from the Collection:


Cyrus, Jamal, Captured Letter from Paris, 2019, denim, thread, ink, wax, bleach, Framed: 47 1/3 x 30 1/2 in