In the presented series, “One of These Black Boys” Shiferaw explores painting and societal structures through mark-making. Mark making in his words is “following in the traditional conversation of painting and making marks and gestures that interrogates the space. A mark, as physical and present as cave-markings, which says, “I am here” or “I was here.” It reveals the thinker behind the gesture - an evidence of prior markings of ideas and self onto the space. The identity of the mark-maker is equally important as the mark itself. Or else, the context can be blurred and forgotten behind the physical aesthetics.”
Taking the names of songs from Hip-Hop, R&B, Jazz, Blues, and Reggae music, Shiferaw makes paintings that embody the experiences and struggles expressed through music by Black artists and composers. He often explores a spectrum of topics ranging from the notion of Black bodies in a white social construct to the popular idioms of romance, sex, and daily life – existence. Appropriating song titles as points of reference for his paintings, the works automatically inherit musical references, identities and histories. Every song used to title his paintings relays a story that refers to a specific reality. Shiferaw explains, “the piece titled, If I Rule The World (Nas), embodies the 1996 track by Nas featuring Ms. Lauren Hill and what the song accomplished in the American society at the time of it’s release.
It was poetic with deep content and spoke to current circumstance of the everyday life for the Black body. It was a song that helped imagine an alternative reality, similar to what Afrofuturisim did in the visual arts world.” It is important to understand that the works are not a visual representation of these songs. The titles are, in their own way, an addition to the physical mark-making, one of the many layers the paintings are composed of. Thus, Shiferaw utilizes repetitive patterns both aesthetically and conceptually. Subtle, yet intricate, the works inhabit a distinct space and powerful authority, acting as placeholders for Black bodies; they establish, quite literally, a way of being "seen" in a society that often prefers overlooking the “Other.”