Gap Fund Update

Acori Honzo: Gap Fund Artist Profile

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The Village launched the Emergency Gap Fund for Philadelphia’s Black Working Artists in April 2020 to support Philadelphia’s culture bearers, visionaries, connectors and creative entrepreneurs with unrestricted grants of $500 during the pandemic. These profiles showcase a few of the remarkable creators that make Philadelphia the city we are proud to call home.

A blue-painted swimming pool is filled with flowers. There aer calndels and flowers in the foreground. Ebony G. Patterson, Called Up, 2018. Swope Park, Open Spaces Kansas City. Photo: EG Schempf. Image courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago.

Artist Acori Honzo’s sculptures — astonishingly detailed miniatures, portraying figures from Black pop culture — invite viewers to do a double-take at their level of detail and realism. One of his secrets to getting them perfect?

“When I started this,” he laughs, “in order to learn how to paint African American skin, I got on YouTube and watched makeup videos by young ladies. You can learn anything on the Internet.”

The small scale of the figures – in many cases, no more than 12” tall – is a key part of Acori’s artistic vision. “When you see something at that scale, it reminds you of an action figure, and you think — what if there was a Langston Hughes action figure, or Harriet Tubman? I play on nostalgia and pop culture to bring people together with history.”

8 inch figurine of James Baldwin wearing a blue coat, hands in pockets and smoking a cigarette.

Last year, Acori had a public studio for the first time at Cherry Street Pier, where his work sparked intergenerational conversation and even drew attention (and a purchase) from Andre 3000 when the actor and musician was in town filming a TV show last spring.

“As I adapted to the space and prepared for it, the pandemic hit. Last year I might not have had enough art for people to purchase, and I finally got the set-up to have it ready. Now I’m back to sculpting in a corner of my living room, so the impact from just the virus alone is crazy.”

Acori used the Gap Fund to buy art materials and re-invest in his craft. He’s using this time to hone existing skills and learn new ones. “I looked around me to see what I had to work with. I’m sculpting, and learning digital painting, digital sculpting, so when I come out of it I’m very well prepared creatively.”

His advice to artists getting through the pandemic? “Use YouTube! It’s all out there. Take that time and invest in yourself. Get those 10,000 hours in so it’s effortless when you go to create.”

To check out more of Acori’s work or purchase a one-of-a-kind work of art, visit his Instagram profile here.

8-inch figurine of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. He has a contemplative expression and is wearing a brown coat with his collar pulled up around his face.