There’s mystery behind someone who’s masked. You’ll understand if you’re ‘Born Worthy’

“Born Worthy,” 2023, gouache on paper.
(Jacob Rochester / For The Times)

This story is part of Image issue 21, “Image Makers,” our third annual celebration of the homegrown fashion luminaries who are designing a global fashion future built from the L.A. that was. Read the whole issue here. You can purchase the issue in print here.

I’ve been doing an ongoing series of portraits through the lens of identity but by way of anonymity. I use these layers of garments to show what the subject would represent or how they choose to express themselves through cultural cues that exist within the piece. This one, titled “Born Worthy,” specifically focuses on L.A. culture. I wanted to use the Born X Raised motif as a subtle homage to Spanto, who recently died. The painting will appear on a T-shirt that will commemorate the opening of Residency Art Gallery’s new space in Inglewood and the inaugural show, “The New Contemporaries Vol. III.”

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Sept. 7, 2023

I’ve always been intrigued by the mystery behind someone who’s masked. I like when people are able to let their work speak for themselves, without having to show their faces — like my favorite rapper is MF Doom, and some of my favorite designers do it as well, like Martin Margiela and Wil Fry. I really like that idea of keeping those two things separate. Also, with portraiture, generally, the painting will depict a person’s face, but you don’t necessarily get to know who the subject is, what they like or what their interests are. My series of portraits is an attempt at showing this in a different way.


Clothing is just another thing I’ve always been obsessed with. I never got to study fashion design, but through my paintings I’m able to bring it into my work. The intersection of art and fashion shows up through this weird obsession with drapery and wrinkles that I’ve always had. When I was really little, my mom, who is a painter as well, had this how-to book on drawing drapery. That book is kind of what set me up for all this stuff now, where it’s just learning the anatomy of how wrinkles are formed and how they behave on a silhouette. The other books I gravitated to the most were the ones about realism, and I feel like I learned how to draw anatomy through “Incredible Hulk” comic books. All of these things combined still have an impact on me and continue to inform my work to this day.