Ruckus logo in black lettering

Artist Profile: Shabez Jamal

Shabez Jamal (b. 1992, St. Louis, Missouri) is an interdisciplinary artist whose work spans still portraiture, experimental video, and performance. His work employs queerness as a mode of interrogating power relations and engaging questions of political, physical, and socio-economic space. By centering fat, Black, queer, male-identified people in his practice, Jamal reconfigures conceptions of racial and sexual identities. Highlighting overlooked histories of Black life and experiences of dispossession, in his series “I came back to visit. When I arrived no one was home,” Jamal explores the history behind Kinloch, Missouri’s first Black incorporated city. Once a thriving city, Kinloch experienced significant disinvestment in the 1980s after much of the land was acquired in the expansion of the Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.

Jamal has had solo exhibitions at Old No. 77 Arts Hotel in New Orleans and Erica Popp Gallery in St. Louis and has been a part of several group exhibitions. He has been awarded residencies at Paul Artspace, St. Louis, and an #InTheCity Fellowship through Harvard University’s Commonwealth Fellowship. He is also the co-founder of Artists in the Room, a collective in St. Louis that connects emerging Black artists in the city with a global artistic network. Jamal is currently based in New Orleans, where he is pursuing his MFA and was awarded a Mellon Community Engaged Research Fellowship at Tulane University.


An aged color photo of an adult man with medium dark skin and short dark hair looks forward with a long sleeve dark blue shirt and white pinstripe pants, standing in front of a wallpapered surface meant to resemble an antique neighborhood map that combines various plot grids, and different font texts featuring words like: “Kinloch,” and “Ferguson.”
Untitled, from the series “I came back to visit. When I arrived no one was home” (2020)

A collage of several photographs and text. In the middle is a blurry, partially twisted, as if in motion, nude body with medium dark skin and long dreadlocks, above this is a small portion of a nose and cheek, and in the bottom right is text which, along with illegible cutoff text reads: “…I want to love you…”
Untitled (2020)

A painting from the waist up of a nude figure with medium dark skin and a beard, who has both hands gracefully raised above their head that has been framed with what seems like wicker furniture material against a dense black and white pattern wallpaper.
Something to Grasp Onto As I Reminiscence (2021)

A collage of several photographs, some black and white and some in color that depict someone’s back but is comprised of many different images and presumably, different individuals. Their skin colors range from a medium dark to dark tone.
Album Study 13 (2020)
RUCKUS, 2018-2023
Louisville, KY