"The piece was amongst the first of my new approach before my migrating to study in Chicago and the 5th iteration of the “Anansi” series that I created for my graduation show mid-pandemic. This piece along with the first four was created during a challenging time and holds very important memories, which for me, made them even more important to be shared back home."- Leasho Johnson, Studio visit
He is referring to the slow coming out that transformed his work; while in Jamaica, he had always referred to the hyper-sexuality, and hyper-masculinity of Dancehall culture, but he did not talk directly about his own queerness. It was too dangerous. These paintings were amongst the first to use the “Anansi” figure—the trickster spider from African folklore—to speak directly to his own shape-shifting, necessary to survive in the very homophobic spaces of the Caribbean. Upon moving to Chicago, mentorship from professors, and a residency at the Leslie Lohman Museum in NYC (the only art museum dedicated to queer art), his work shifted dramatically and this painting is the early phases, the metamorphosis, the moment of transformation.