By Allison Burnett
After going viral for his painting of Vice President Kamala Harris, Tyler Gordon is debuting his virtual art exhibit, “The Icon Collection,” featuring many paintings of celebrities and notable figures. The exhibit, sponsored by VR-All-Art, allows users to view various paintings from Gordon in a virtual museum, while also providing options to purchase his work. It is an opportunity to re-experience museums and doubles as an intimate look at Gordon’s phenomenal talent.
The exhibit opens with his iconic painting of LeBron James — which was featured on the cover of Time magazine. Next to the painting is a time-lapse showcasing Gordon as he paints the iconic piece of LeBron. In addition, it includes paintings of prominent figures in the black community such as Muhammed Ali, Martin Luther King Jr., Michael Jackson and John Lewis. His piece titled “Women Leaders” showcases powerful women such as Michelle Obama, Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey and Aretha Franklin. This exhibit also features his viral painting of Kamala Harris and President Joe Biden.
The Vice President was amazed by Gordon’s work, so much so that she actually surprised him with a phone call, thanking him for the painting, as shown on CBS News. Harris also took her appreciation to Twitter, addressing Gordon directly in a Tweet saying
“Oh Tye, what a wonderful, wonderful thing you’ve done! I know your artistry and this gift — you know it’s a very special thing to be an artist like you are. It’s a gift you give so many people. People you’ll never meet are going to be so touched by the work you do.”
Gordon was born deaf and did not speak until the age of five. After undergoing surgery to hear in one ear, he developed a speech impediment which resulted in him getting bullied by his peers. He has noted that art is his way of combating bullying. It is also why he created his foundation, Tongue Tied, designed to help young children fight back against bullying while also receiving assistance for speech disabilities.
The Knight News spoke with Queens College students about Gordon’s work, asking about using art as a means to combat bullying. “Art can also be really influential in raising awareness against bullying whilst also providing a safe space for the victims of it,” says Ahona Islam, senior English major. Fellow senior and early childhood education major, Christine Herndon also notes that art can “influence change and spark the artistic and open mindedness of another individual” while also allowing viewers to “have the opportunity to see the world from the artists’ perspective which opens the path to unity and inclusion.”
It is evident from the impact of Gordon’s work that his art is providing a means for individuals to appreciate his artistry and to relate with some of the struggles Gordon has faced in his past. As the exhibit notes, Gordon was the runner-up for Time Magazine/Nickelodeon’s first Kid of the Year Awards. He is an artist with a bright future.