Born in Guyana, Ivan Forde was two when his mother immigrated alone to the United States so that she could better support her family. Eight years of weekly phone calls and a five-hour plane ride later, Ivan and his four older siblings finally met the cold winter air of New York, their new home. Ivan will never forget the feeling of arriving and the moment of reuniting with his mother.
Growing up in Harlem, he made collages as gifts for his mother, who struggled to support her children and help them adjust while working two jobs. During high school, Ivan’s sister recognized his artistic curiosity and gave him a camera. Soon he began capturing his family, friends, and neighborhood in photographs. A career in art became tangible after working with highly accomplished artists and curators on his first group exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem.
At Purchase College, State University of New York, Ivan immersed himself in classic poetry to become a stronger reader, earning a bachelor’s degree in literature with an award-winning thesis of self-portraits representing the reader of Paradise Lost. After graduation, he returned to the Studio Museum, among other nonprofit spaces, where he worked with immigrant and first-generation students using photography, literature, and technology to visualize their stories.
Ivan’s work has been recognized by the New York Times, the Whitney Museum, Pioneer Works, Vermont Studio Center, and the Lower East Side Printshop. Now pursuing an MFA in visual art at the Columbia University School of the Arts, Ivan is using printmaking, electronic media, and sound installation on a range of projects, such as illuminating the exciting new chapter of the Epic of Gilgamesh uncovered in December 2015. After his training, Ivan hopes to reveal multiplicity and diversity in epic poetry through an immersive exhibition practice.