100 Creatives: David McGee

(This is the first part of our ongoing series profiling 100 Houston-area artists. It's not a best-of-Houston list; it's not in order. It's simply an exploration of the creative impulse--what sparks it; what keeps it going. Check back every Tuesday and Thursday for another edition.)

What he does: David McGee is a painter, and a prolific one at that. The Louisiana-born artist has been the focus of several solo exhibitions, and his work is held in the collections of The Menil Collection; Museum of Fine Arts Houston; Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Addison Gallery; Dallas Museum of Art; and Harvard University Museums.

McGee doesn't like labels, especially being typecast as an African American artist. "My art isn't about the African American experience, it's a study of the human experience," he says. His thought-provoking paintings seek to upend the surface, image-obsessed world we inhabit to arrive at a greater, underlying truth. "If it looks like a duck and swims like a duck--it's a duck," he says. "But suppose we change the symmetry of its environment, perhaps substitute [a] quack for a bark and all other possibilities while maintaining its appearance. Then what?"