Local artist Gordon Skinner the focus of documentary, exhibition

As a young African American growing up in New Haven, Gordon Skinner is acutely aware of the social problems — poverty, homelessness, economic inequality — impacting the black community.

It’s a community, he said, suffering from an ongoing identity crisis.

“(I am) part of a group that feels fragmented, colonized and lost,” Skinner writes in his artist statement, adding, “I feel robbed of my heritage and culture.”

However, through his art, Skinner is taking that all back.

The artist is the subject of a new documentary, “Stolen I.D.: Fragmented, Colonized and Lost,” and a solo exhibition of the same name, which is on view at the New Haven Public Library through Feb. 29.

Inspired by the expressionist, art brut and street art movements, Skinner creates paintings on canvas and wood using everything from acrylic to spray paint to mixed media and collage. He describes his works as self-portraits, through which he “attacks certain social issues related to my people.”

“Being African American, I want to be a voice for them,” Skinner, 34, added. “I’m putting homeless, poverty and HIV/AIDS out there . . . also, my art is a personal search for identity.”

Bob Albert, owner of Take Notice Productions and the director of the documentary, praised Skinner for his unique vision.

“He’s in a lane in his own,” Albert, of Norwalk, said. “He paints in his own terriroty. He’s very expressive.”

In addition to the New Haven Public Library, Skinner has exhibited work at The Da Silva Gallery in Westville, and he plans to host a show at Nuartlink Gallery in Westport this spring.

Check out the documentary, courtesy of Take Notice Productions, below:

Scott Gargan