Anwar Floyd-Pruitt has made thousands of faces. Each one is a single, unbroken line tracing eyes, ears, lips and a nose in pen and ink or silicone caulk.
It’s a quickly repeated self-portrait, an evolving, abstract sketch of how he looks to the world at any given moment. In one vigorous period of art-making, Floyd-Pruitt drew so many of these faces that pain in his forearm forced him to stop.
The gesture looks nearly effortless now. So he was mildly surprised when he asked teenagers to trace their own faces roughly in a mirror, and they struggled a bit with how they thought it should work.
“When I’ve led youth through this process, many of them were disappointed with the results,” Floyd-Pruitt said. “It doesn’t look like them. And they are holding onto a very institutional, historical version of what an artist is and what an artist does. The artist as the genius, creative mind.
“The best artists I know are brilliant, but they’re also well-practiced. They’ve done these things over and over and over.”
Floyd-Pruitt, 41, has built his artistic practice around all of these elements — thought, technique and repetition, his own private work and wider community engagement. He recently started his second year in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s MFA program, focusing on 4D art, which includes video and performance.