Art

The Movement of Black Visual Art: "She's Gotta Have It"

shes-gotta-have-it-season-2-netflix-may-2019-770x433.png

The creative industry game is the midst of a major upheaval happening particularly in the world of visual art. The resurgence of visual art intermingled within our daily dose of entertainment is seemingly right on trend. Whether in a new TV series, movie, or live festival concert Black visual art is transitioning its position amongst mainstream media to the front lines of exposure to the masses. This shape-shifting journey of Black visual art is so much more than a trend of the present day cool. Each project is simultaneously dissecting race relations by exposing injustices within the industry. Demanding old guard iconic filmmakers to create new narratives with a renewed sense of creative innovation for Black artists are just some of the thick threads of progress created by the fair inclusiveness of highlighting and celebrating Black art in all spaces.  

Spike Lee is one of the most uniquely talented and iconic filmmakers who chooses to continue to inject himself into world’s current culturally charged moment in Black visual art as an opportunity to promote artists that are still underrepresented in mainstream media and the art world at large. Bold decision like those of Lee realign the artistic conversation about Black visual art and how to produce a new world of creativity with a plethora of alternatives inclusive of newcomers to create their artwork both inside and outside the traditional formats. While major institutions are indeed making public efforts to showcase Black art, there are still cracks in the elite picturesque art atmosphere that falls tone deaf to when those same artists highlighted within that institution speaks out against injustice are ignored and iced out. When veteran filmmakers like Spike Lee and the late John Singleton incorporate the work of Black artists within their entertainment it reverberates throughout the industry both legitimizing and stimulating a new avenue for Black artists to showcase their work.

hypebeast-digital-cover-spike-lee-06.jpg

Spike Lee has birthed his signature cinematic style through the history of curating visual and performing art throughout his film career. Both Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee, veteran art collectors, have always supported and promoted young talents throughout the entertainment industry as part of there activism within the industry.

By presenting critically acclaimed forces within the Black contemporary art community, the Lees have emphasized the role that artists have within society. Both seasons of Spike Lee’s “She’s Gotta Have It” Netflix series introduces us to a montage of real life Black artists at various levels in their career all actively pursuing a viable lifestyle just like protagonist Nola Darling.

We’re sounding the on the virtual loudspeaker on these real life visionary artists and their beautiful artwork to add to your personal art collection!

The Artists Behind the Art: "She's Gotta Have It"

Part 1

weems_2013_hi-res-download_1_1 (1).jpg

Carrie Mae Weems

Contemporary Artist. Art Photographer. Videographer. Activist.

“It's fair to say that black folks operate under a cloud of invisibility - this too is part of the work, is indeed central to [my photographs]... This invisibility - this erasure out of the complex history of our life and time - is the greatest source of my longing.”

-Carrie Mae Weems

Carrie Mae Weems is among the most radically innovative contemporary American artists working today. In a career spanning nearly five decades across the mediums of photography, video, installations and public art campaigns — Weems has unapologetically unveiled the historical biases that guide our own actions and shape our perceptions of others. The continuous motifs in all of her works, from her famous intimate family photographs to series involving archival images of enslaved Africans is what unites her subjects and viewers in a common humanity.

Born on April 20, 1952 in Portland, OR, Weems studied dance with the Postmodern dancer Anna Halprin, eventually receiving her MFA from the University of California San Diego. In 2014, Weems was the subject of a major retrospective at the Guggenheim in New York titled “Three Decades of Photography and Video,” which notably featured her early Kitchen Table Series (1990), a groundbreaking investigation of African American stereotypes becoming the first African-American woman to have a retrospective at the Guggenheim.

We first encounter Weems in a scene from She’s Gotta Have It, Series in season 1 with her iconic “Kitchen Table” series. For season 2 Weems makes a stunning return appearing as herself on screen, as an established affluent artist, mentor, and educator masterfully re-fueling Nola Darling after a less then stellar portfolio presentation at the Nation Time artists’ retreat that left her feeling doubtful about her work and comparing herself to others. Its Weems authentic charm and grace in the scene with Nola that reawakens her purpose as an evolving artist after feeling defeated that is so powerful and memorable for its audience.

Weems’ work can be found in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, among others. The artist lives and works between Syracuse and Brooklyn, NY.

Carrie Mae Weems Artwork

“An artist’s “obligation” is to “make what you want to see in the world.”


l-MAG-1218-Vanities-Gilded-Age.jpg

Doreen Garner

Sculptor. Performing Artist. Tattoo Artist.

“Take the power back, twist it, and sharpen it. Probe all cavities of the privileged viewer experience. With viscera and bling, a material mush is formulated of beads, Swarovski crystals, silicone, rubber, teeth, condoms, teddy bear stuffing, Vaseline, etc., held together by glass walls or latex membranes.”

-Doreen Garner

Doreen Garner is a Brooklyn-based sculptor and performance artist born in Philadelphia, PA. In her visceral work as a sculptor, Garner interrogates the medical industry’s exploitation of black bodies. Garner’s work is magnificently grotesque and literally carves into the beliefs of sexuality, gender, and race. Her sculptures capture the essence of the body in its most natural state: skin, blood, hair, MUSH stripping the external form of the body that we comfortable knowing. Garner brilliantly uses the body as both the host and catalyst to an infinite amount of perfectly choreographed systems, invoking a mysteriously spiritual awakening. It is Doreen’s talent to capture the essence of the body with selective material genius manifesting each sculpture as a votive to this “thing” we each call home.

Her 2017 show “Purge,” at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn, exposed the damage done by the 19th-century doctor J. Marion Sims. Garner’s interests stem from her curiosity of examining the interplay between “pain and power,”. The “Purge” compels its audience as a collective society to face the reality of racism that J. Marion Sims’s legacy as the “Father of Modern Gynecology” was built upon.

I identify, extract, and exploit the tissues that bind the sexual and the grotesque, specifically regarding the black female body. Treated as spectacle and disposable specimen, these women and their stories—Henrietta Lacks, Saartjie Baartman, the victims of Dr. J. Marion Sims—are a driving force. Identifying the voyeur as the subject, an oppositional gaze is directed towards fetish, objectification, and racism.

-Doreen Garner

garner-newsletter.gif

Doreen’s artwork proves to be such an innovative exception because her bold, bodily sculptures confronts the historical racial trauma of Black women. Garner has held residencies and fellowships at Recess Art, the International Studio and Curatorial Program, Socrates Sculpture Park, Pioneer Works, and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. She holds a BFA in Glass from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University and an MFA in Glass from the Rhode Island School of Design. She is a recipient of the Toby Devan Lewis Award, the Van Lier Fellowship Award, and a Franklin Furnace Grant. Currently, Garner is practicing as a sculptor and inscriber of flesh. She is also a licensed tattoo artist, a practice that extends her acknowledgment of the simultaneous resilience and silencing of African Americans throughout history.

Doreen Garner’s Artwork

“It’s not about creating a gruesome work. It’s about creating subtle nuance where you don’t completely know how to feel. And maybe that’s what stays with you.”


w620-19f41dc5052c880789d944df4dfc5b4a.jpg

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh

Illustrator. Muralist. Painter.

“Directly challenging the xenophobic and misogynistic rhetoric now dominating American discourse, subjects of this work assert that they are not going anywhere.”

-Tatyana Fazlalizade

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh is a Black/Iranian visual artist from Oklahoma City, OK. With a degree from Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, she is a classically trained artist with a background in illustration whose artwork extents in the form of vivid rendered oil paintings, large murals, and black and white wheatpastes that are unmistakably her own. Fazlalizadeh’s audacious spirit and passion for activism has allowed her artwork to expand from the gallery to the streets to tackling issues of violence in public spaces and gender based street harassment to violence against black people.

Tatyana first caught the attention of film director Spike Lee with her “Stop Telling Women to Smile” series via Instagram. In 2014, Lee asked Tatyana to be the Art Consultant for the TV adaptation of his first movie She’s Gotta Have It. Fazlalizadeh’s work was so compelling that her original street art series “Stop Telling Women to Smile”, is echoed in the fictionalized street campaign series “My Name is Not”. Fazlalizadeh is the creator of all of protagonist Nola Darling’s work seen throughout the series.

Her street art series, Stop Telling Women to Smile, can be found on walls across the globe, addressing gender based street harassment through illustration portraiture and storytelling. Tatyana has been profiled by the New York Times, NPR, MSNBC, the New Yorker, and listed as one of Brooklyn’s most influential people by Brooklyn Magazine. She is 2015 Forbes 30 Under 30 recipient. She has lectured at the Brooklyn Museum, New Orleans Contemporary Arts Center, several universities including Stanford, Brown, USC, and Pratt Institute. Tatyana’s work has been featured on TV networks BET and Oxygen, and Spike Lee’s feature film Da Sweet Blood of Jesus. Tatyana's work can currently be seen on Spike Lee's Netflix series, She's Gotta Have It, for which she is also the show's Art Consultant. She is also the current inaugural Public Artist in Residence for the New York City Commission on Human Rights. A year long residency that will present the experiences of racism and sexism from New Yorkers through public art. Tatyana is currently working on her first book, Stop Telling Women to Smile, with Seal Press and she currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

“I think it’s important to address those issues because they’re incredibly significant and important to not just my life because I’m a black woman,” Fazlalizadeh said, “but they’re important to our country and our world and our society in general. I don’t think that those issues that face black and brown people or queer people or women are issues that are isolated and only affect them. They affect everyone.”

anigif_sub-buzz-3965-1516206911-4.gif

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s Artwork

“I wanted to talk about street harassment, so it made the most sense for me to do the work in the street.”


Kaphar_2018_hi-res-download_1-736x1024.jpg

Titus Kaphar

Painter. Sculptor.

“I'm not saying that things now aren't better for black people. Thank God they're definitely better, but some things are still the same. "Better" is not good enough - it's not. Especially when "better" still means my life is at risk.”

-Titus Kaphar

Titus Kaphar is an artist whose paintings, sculptures, and installations examine the history of representation by transforming its styles and mediums with formal innovations to emphasize the physicality and dimensionality of the canvas and materials themselves. Kaphar is known for appropriating images from American and European art subverting them, cutting them into his canvases to pull back the velvet curtain of history. Through cutting, bending, sculpting, and remixing historic paintings and sculptures, Kaphar often shifts the focus of the narratives to create new works that exist between fiction and quotation. He wields materials like tar, wire, gold leaf and nails to unearth the past’s inconvenient truths, and to shine a restorative light on those residing in the shadows. Open areas become active absences; walls enter into the portraits; stretcher bars are exposed; and structures that are typically invisible underneath, behind, or inside the canvas are laid bare to reveal the interiors of the work. In so doing, Kaphar creates art that nods to history's untold narratives and reveal its unspoken truths of social justice and change in America today that leaving his audience to investigate the power of a rewritten history.

Titus Kaphar was born in 1976 in Kalamazoo, Michigan and lives and works in New Haven, CT. Kaphar received an MFA from the Yale School of Art and is a distinguished recipient of numerous prizes and awards including a 2014 Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Fellowship, a 2015 Creative Capital grant, a 2016 Robert R. Rauschenberg Artist as Activist grant, a 2018 Art for Justice Fund grant and the 2018 Rappaport Prize. In late 2014, Kaphar created a painting in response to protests in Ferguson, Missouri following the shooting of Michael Brown that was featured in TIME magazine. He gave a TED talk at the annual conference in Vancouver 2017, where he completed a whitewash painting, Shifting the Gaze, onstage. Kaphar’s work has been included in solo exhibitions at the Seattle Art Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, MoMA PS1 and the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, among others. His work is included in the collections of Crystal Bridges Museum, Bentonville, AK; the 21C Museum Collection; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY; the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT; and the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), Miami, FL, amongst others.

Future exhibitions include Suffering from Realness at MASSMoCA, New Bedford, MA opening April 13, 2019-2020.



Titus Kaphar’s Artwork

I want to make paintings…I want to make sculptures that are honest, that wrestle with the struggles of our past but speak to the diversity and the advances of our present.”





Stay tuned for the rest of the artists highlighted season 2 of Spike Lee’s “She Gotta Have It” series next week !













































































“The Strongest”: HFR x LeBron 16 Championing the Beautiful Strength of Black Women

https_%2F%2Fbae.hypebeast.com%2Ffiles%2F2018%2F09%2Fharlems-fashion-row-style-awards-show-dapper-dan-nyfw-9.jpg

“I believe that African-American women are some of the strongest people on earth. I grew up around incredibly strong women and continue to be inspired by the female strength I see around me, mainly in my mom, wife, and daughter. I thought it was important to recognize that strength through this shoe.”

-LeBron James

HFR

“African-American women are the most powerful women in the world.” It was this post game remark said by LeBron James that began the journey of a historical fashion & sports collaboration never done before. Not one for mincing his words on and off the court, LeBron James is no stranger to advocating for the overlooked and underrepresented communities of our time, but he has always held a special space for the women in his life who are responsible for the evolution of the man we see today.  

On Friday, September 7, 2018 at 10:05am LeBron James unveiled his 16th Limited Edition women’s sneaker which sold out in a remarkable 5 minutes. The sneaker is the first James shoe designed by an all woman collective. The HFR x LeBron 16 develops from the LeBron 15 Flyknit design, but instead is cleverly adorned with gold accents and a 3D-sculpted lion head on the back with laces that ties up the ankle to compliment the main ivory colorway. The interior of the sneaker is also inscribed with each woman designers’ signature and motivating words loyalty, dignity, strength, and courage alongside leather buckles that double as both a choker or bracelet.

Spearheaded by Harlem’s Fashion Row CEO, Brandice Daniel the sneaker collaboration with James and Nike was produced to honor Black womanhood and culture as well as their organic essence of fearlessness, power, and resilience. Daniel, created her organization Harlem’s Fashion Row 11-years ago to champion the visibility of underrepresented Black designers and create equal opportunities for them just like their counterparts.  Just last year, Brandice received a phone call from a colleague who reached out to her in search of Black women designers to partner with for a great project, but never revealed the brand that was in need of the collaboration.

The very next day, Brandice received a call from Nike exec Melanie Auguste who revealed LeBron James had done and interview where he expressed wanting to develop a shoe for women by women in honor of the strong women in his life.  The designers Undra Duncan, Fe Noel, and Kimberly Goldson had all worked with Brandice on different projects for Harlem’s Fashion Row with such great integrity and innovation that Brandice decided to include the three Brooklyn-based women designers along for the major collaboration opportunity. “I sent three designers to Nike, and they were supposed to pick one to handle the design. But they asked for all three to collaborate on the shoe,” said Daniel. For over a year the 3 designers, Brandice, the Nike team and LeBron partnered on the design to capture the perfect aesthetic. Inspired by James’ mother, wife, and daughter the collaboration invoked the bonding of sisterhood as Goldson, Duncan, and Noel developed the shoe.

HFRdesigners2000x2000-445x297.jpg

“This was LeBron’s ode to woman. The shoe is about how much he respects and loves us.” said Noel about the design experience.  

HFR kept the big reveal for their bi-annual fashion and style gala set at New York’s Capitale in partnership with Nike and King James himself last week. With the dress code of black tie and Nikes Daniel opened the night addressing the guests on the importance of being a catalyst for change by elevating Black designers and demand inclusivity as a wide-accepted standard throughout the fashion industry. “...It may have started with a sole fashion show, but its importance and significance has grown way past its runway productions: It’s a community of like-minded people steadfast in their mission to prove there is no shortage of Black creatives.” Daniels said. The annual style awards and fashion presentation kicked off in a packed house of celebs, taste-makers, and industry notables culminating with 4 fashion presentations, a 2-course dinner, and 4 award presentations.  This years prolific honorees were Jason Rembert recipient of “Stylist of the Year”, Bethann Hardison recipient of “The Trailblazer Award”, Dapper Dan recipient of “The Lifetime Maverick Award” and LeBron James recipient “Icon 360 Award”.


“I thought it was important to lend that platform to a group of people that I believe are undervalued,” he says. “I want women to know that they are recognized, that there are people who appreciate them and know that they are facing odds that others are not having to face. In spite of those odds, I want them to know that they can succeed and create the positive change that we need more of right now.”

-LeBron James


The entire evening was filled with surprise celebrations like the video highlight that featured Floyd Mayweather and LL Cool J  paying homage to Harlem phenom designer Dapper Dan before his acceptance of the “Lifetime Maverick Award”. In a pair of diamond-encrusted sunglasses with dress shoes lined in silver for his Black Tie & Nike dress-code, Dan expressed his immense gratitude for HFR on the red carpet before the ceremony stating, “When I first came out to the underground after 20 years when nobody knew about me or where I was at, they were the first ones to reach out and ask me to be apart of a panel of young designers coming up. That was the most exciting thing of my life.  The outpouring of gratitude culminated on an emotional high for the night when founder Brandice Daniel pausing through a wave of happy tears presented LeBron James his “Icon 360 Award”, “This one,.... This is probably one of the most amazing things to ever happen to me in my life.” In true admiration James carrying daughter Zhuri in his arms and wearing Moscot sunglasses, dressed in a Thom Browne shorts suit with the new Nike Element React 87 sneakers took the stage to accept his award thanking all the women in his life — his mother Gloria who had him at 16 years old, his wife Savannah who has been by his side both on and off the court literally and his daughter Zhuri who is responsible for making the 250 pound small forward a stronger more sensitive man. James humbly thanked the women in his life — for being examples of how African-American women are the most powerful in the world. He concluded his speech giving his personal thoughts on Nike’s latest campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick stating, “Last but not least, I stand for anybody that believes in change. I stand for anybody who believes in a positive attitude and positive manner, and I believe in and stand with Nike everyday, all day.


This historical campaign partnership between Nike, HFR, & LeBron James is a ground breaking accomplishment that is aligned with mission to control and share the full authentic narrative of the Black experience while changing the marginalized status quo.  HFR’s mission has always been centered around creating a robust community of change makers who are focused on the creation of inclusive and equal opportunities for Black designers and creatives. With 11 years of experience amidst the industry of fashion it is abundantly clear that organization HFR is making international progress amongst the fabric of the industry dismantling the old ways of selective business practices and awakening corporate commercial brands to the valued inclusivity of Black creatives. The inner workings of their progress as an organization has been relatively low key until now and with Nike as their newest corporate campaign collaboration and their success has only just begun.


Here’s a peek into the creative process collaboration with designers Undra Duncan, Fe Noel, Kimberly Goldson, and Brandice Daniel


Checkout the Red Carpet Lineup of Celebs Who Attended the Magical Night


Celebrating Juneteenth 2018 with Visual Artists of Our Past & Present

"But, if this part of our history could be told in such a way that those chains of the past, those shackles that physically bound us together against our wills could, in the telling, become spiritual links that willingly bind us together now and into the future - then that painful Middle Passage could become, ironically, a positive connecting line to all of us whether living inside or outside the continent of Africa..."     

-Tom Feelings, Illustrator "The Middle Passage"

Thomas Nast's celebration of the emancipation of Southern slaves with the end of the Civil War, 1865.

Thomas Nast's celebration of the emancipation of Southern slaves with the end of the Civil War, 1865.

Happy Juneteenth! Happy Freedom Day! Happy Emancipation Day!

DgDPtTAX0AAGb3Z.png

Commemorated on this day June 19, 1865, slavery was officially abolished in the United States in a proclamation delivered by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger. Although slavery had been abolished by Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, because there weren’t many Union soldiers in Texas to enforce the January 1, 1963 mandate, African Americans were still in bondage until they were informed on June 19, 1865.

Despite the deliberate delays and disproportioned systems of freedoms and justice for Black Americans throughout American history our ancestors and peers have remained resilient, courageous, and creative. It is for this very reason that we memorialize the ancestors of our past who were pioneers while remembering the bondage of our African people who endured generations of enslavement for a stake in a country with a population of people constantly fighting for democracy and human rights.

The visual art space as always been an expression of representation and revolution for Black & Brown artists. Today we especially champion the artistic pioneers of our past and the innovators of our present who have redefined and shifted the consciousness of the art industry through their adversity, their unique creations, and their choice to express the very complex, beautiful, and diverse experience of Black American life.


"Rendering the invisible, visible."


Edmonia Lewis aka "Wildfire", Sculptor

“My mother was a wild Indian, and was born in Albany, of copper colour, and with straight, black hair. There she made and sold moccasins. My father, who was a negro, and a gentleman’s servant, saw her and married her.”
~Edmonia Lewis (c.1844 – c.1907)
220px-Motto_edmonia_lewis_original.jpg

Born in Greenbush, New York in 1844 to a Haitian American father and a Chippewa Indian mother, sculptor Edmonia Lewis aka "Wildfire" was known for her Neo-Classical sculptor of figural work in carved marble. "Wildfire", a nickname given to her by her mother's Chippewa Indian tribe who raised her in a nomadic lifestyle, was most known for her busts of abolitionists and patrons as well as subjects depicting her dual African-American and Native American ancestry.  Her atrocious experience with anti-abolitionist vigilantes in Ohio where she was accused of poisoning two white female classmates at Oberlin College, beaten and arrested compelled her to move to Boston and pursue a career as a sculptor. She studied at Oberlin College from 1859 to 1863 and met sculptor Edward Brackett shortly after her ordeal in Ohio, who taught her to model in clay. Soon afterward she settled in Rome, Italy, where her sculptures, created in the prevailing neoclassical style, garnered her great recognition throughout the United States and Europe. A remarkable figure in the history of American art, Edmonia Lewis boldly breached barriers of race, ethnicity, and gender becoming first Black sculptor to receive international acclaim in fine art.

 

 

Kehinde Wiley, Visual Artist & Sculptor

“What I choose to do is to take people who happen to look like me — black and brown people all over the world, increasingly — and to allow them to occupy that field of power,”
~Kehinde Wiley
0413-GQ-FEKW04.04.jpg

A native of South Central, Los Angeles Kehinde was born to a Yoruba, Nigerian father and Black American mother in 1977. At the age of 11, he took art classes at a conservatory at California State University, and at 12 years old he attended a six-week art program outside Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) sponsored by the Center for U.S./U.S.S.R. Initiatives. Those community programs ignited a major passion for Kehinde in the world of art and he decided to pursue art as a full-time career earning his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (1999) at the San Francisco Art Institute and his Master of Fine Arts (2001) at the School of Art at Yale University. Wiley's early works were portraits based on photographs taken of young men found on the streets of Harlem. Is was this style that would cement his influence from the art space to the community among he was directly influenced by.

Wiley is most known for his larger-than-life figurative portraits and sculpture. Like his fellow elder counterpart Wildfire, Wiley's special gift is the essence of fusing traditional techniques with modern motifs that produce this captivating soul-stirring photorealistic style.  His bold, robust representation of the African-American culture, putting persons from hip-hop culture in Renaissance poses against colorful, patterned backgrounds is how his artwork intersects the lines of class, race, gender, and sexuality defying the traditional categories of art unapologetically. 

The Unapologetic Comedic Brilliance of Issa Rae at the 2018 CFDA Awards

cosmopolitan-july-18-issa-rae-3-1528128580.jpg

“When I am left to my own devices, I am about as fashionable as Kanye is Black - only when its convent. You guys, that joke was my choice, just like slavery,”

-Issa Rae

Issa Rae in Pyer Moss gown-Mateo jewelry-Shauna Neely ring.jpg

Who is the world uses a black belt accessory to hit the red carpet with all eyes on her to make a powerful bold cultural statement? My guess is you would most likely think of a renowned artist or a rapper/singer/musician first before you would think of a Black woman comedian and actress. But Issa Rae has always understood her kinetic wow factor when it comes to the unapologetic celebration of her Blackness.  A modern-day Renaissance woman in her own right within the industries of Black TV, Film, and Comedy but she is also making a whole lot of ‘first-ever’ historic moments to add to her beautiful funny persona and screen-writing brilliance. Steven Kolb, President and CEO of the CFDA described her artistic voice as, “...the leading new generation of performers who use their voice and humor to discuss social topics in a way that is relatable and poignant.” in their press release for the annual Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Awards last week. The CFDA began in 1981 to celebrate the work of menswear and womenswear designers nationwide but the Insecure actress and comedienne made history by being the first Black entertainer to host the fashion awards in its 37-year history, as well as the first woman to host in nine years.

gettyimages-967441196-1528207350.jpg

To officially commence the historic moment Issa stepped on to the red carpet like a seasoned star in her signature chic fashion boldness wearing a stunning Swarovski-encrusted a one-shouldered jumpsuit gown designed by Black designer Kerby Jean-Raymond for Pyer Moss. And just when you thought Issa couldn’t be bolder in her cultural pride, her most memorable statement of the night was her jaw-dropping black belt accessory, which cinched her waist in an embroidered white stitching that read "Every N**** Is A Star."   It was that unspoken clever cultural nod that cemented the historic fashion moment like no other on the red carpet appearance before. The iconic raw, statement "Every N**** Is A Star. " originates from Jamaican artist Boris Gardiner's 1973 song and film of the same name. The 1973 song was also re-featured on the soundtrack for Moonlight, the Best Picture winner at the 2017 Oscars and you probably know the phrase most recently from a sample on Kendrick Lamar's 2015 track, "Wesley's Theory."

"If you don't get it, it's not for you. If you don't get it, you weren't supposed to. It's not meant to be political. It's meant to be uplifting."

           Designer, Kerby Jean-Raymond for Pyer Moss

In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter designer, Kerby Jean-Raymond revealed that the belt accessory was actually added at the last minute and was inspired by the cultural phenomena that depicts Black people as just tragic figures. "We never talk about who they love, people with their children and their love for their families. It's always a tragic figure or as firsts—first black man to do this, first black person to do this—but what about just a bus driver?" he says. "We don't have to be Jay-Z, we don't have to be Kerby Jean-Raymond, we don't have to be Issa Rae, we can just be who we are and just exist and we're still superstars in our own rights, no matter what we do." Simply put, Kerby and Issa wanted to champion the phrase and flip the controversial yet poignant phrase on its head and illustrate a new language of beauty. As for the uncomfortableness of the use of the word N**** on the belt,  Jean-Raymond has this to say, "If you don't get it, it's not for you. If you don't get it, you weren't supposed to. It's not meant to be political. It's meant to be uplifting."  There is a necessary grandiose creativity of wordplay and fashion expression needed within the fashion and entertainments industries because of the under-recognized community of American Black designers, despite the direct global and historical influences of the culture for centuries. Ironically, none of the Black designers who were nominated for a 2018 CFDA Award won on that night, but it is for that very reason of underrepresentation that Issa & Kerby would team up for such a powerful and political visual fashion statment, "it’s important to know that being there was already a huge achievement," says Jean Raymond in his elle.com interview.

issa-rae-cfda-award-looks-2018-shutterstock-getty-1528220315.jpg

Issa made her hosting debut at the Brooklyn Museum with a no holes barred opening monologue addressing the political climate and controversial comments of Kanye West with Mrs. West sitting right in the front row.  Representation was Issa's focal point for the fashionable evening, which is why Rae teamed up with her stylist, Jason Rembert, chose five different looks for the night, all designed by black designers as well as Black accessory designers too.

“When I am left to my own devices, I am about s fashionable as Kanye is Black - only when its convent. You guys, that joke was my choice, just like slavery,”

Issa Rae

Sergio Hudson suit-JLANI Jewels earrings and ring.jpg

The evening brought A-list celebs that included, Oprah Winfrey, "Black-ish" star Tracee Ellis Ross, Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o, singer Ciara, model-actress, Comedian & Host Trevor Noah, and more. The Fashion Icon Award went to model-actress Naomi Campbell, and Donatella Versace received the International Award.

Being the face of Insecure has led our beloved Issa to many new opportunities in her career because of her ability to authentically literalize the Black experience and all of its cultural nuances without an explanation even as the modern tv-landscape becomes more inclusive. Coined as the "vanguard of young creators in television" by GQ magazine in their June 2018 edition, it is more than obvious why her charismatic and bold funny has led her to other industry stages that she would have never imagined. Her unapologetic and unwavering comedy content that refuses to bend to the traditional network's expectations is why her career is crossing pollinating amongst so many other creative entertianment spaces. We can only imagine what next for this "It Girl" who made the words "Awkward" and "Insecure" seem cool and hella relatable and championing the complexity of the Black womanhood experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out her funny opening monologue below!!!

Hip-Hop's 1st Pulitzer Prize with KING Kendrick Lamar

"Any kind of business outside of art and culture and hip-hop, I have to have full creative control... And having that control, I always wanted to have something that represents more than just a price tag."

— Kendrick Lamar

img-kendrick-lamar_175706668182-775x1000.jpg

The lineage of hip-hop begins from the ancestors' tradition of vivid storytelling. What hip-hop did was birth a new modern day musical language of the struggle within Black American life, blending the old traditions of oral storytelling and innovated complex lyricism filled with verses, tracks, hooks, and eventually, classic historical albums with narratives so rich you couldn’t help but experience the sound just like a Hollywood movie, only better. 

It is no secret that hip-hop has also had a constant battle for institutional legitimacy because of its original global musical phenomena and unapologetic expression of Black American life.  Over the decades, hip-hop has without a doubt matured and manifested into subgenres rooted in a competitive art form that has cemented global music history with decades of unforgettable modern-day storytellers.  The unveiling of the many facets of Black American life and the complex dimensions of its beauty and pain has always been hip-hop's allure. The music has always been diverse and evolving with its variety of musical styles and influences.  Sometimes it is filled with braggadocious cadences of fun and play and other times it is a vivid, raw, mind-searing tale that you can’t unhear, but no matter what your musical palette preference, hip-hop’s creative range of influences an innovative musical architecture has single-handedly changed American musical history and the outlook on Black American life forever.

"Putting a positive light on where I come from is important to me. When you think of Compton, there is this idea that it’s numb with negativity"

KING Kendrick, hip-hop's modern-day storyteller has exquisitely documented the experience of the struggle throughout Black life in its past, present, and near future, in both sound and narration. His pure vulnerability within his music is transcendent in a feel good, DAMN kinda way. You go through all types of emotions with Kendrick along his musical ride. 

Most recently he made a new stamp on music history this year when he became the first non-classical and non-jazz artist to receive a Pulitzer Prize for his third studio album DAMN. Kendrick was the first to win the honor since 1997 when the Pulitzer Prize for music went to a jazz work by Wynton Marsalis’s oratorio “Blood on the Fields.” Decades earlier in 1965, the Pulitzer jurors recommended awarding a special citation to Duke Ellington but were rejected. 

A little over 20 years later hip-hop's own Kendrick Lamar's music is acknowledged as a preeminent masterwork by an age-old institution calling his single, DAMN a “triumphant piece of art,” by Pulitzer Prize administrator Dana Canedy.  Kendrick was awarded the Pulitzer Prize over classical musicians and co-finalists Michael Gilbertson and his string Quartet and Ted Hearne's cantata Sound from the Bench. To get a sense of the magantitude of this historic momement in hip-hop and American history, the jurors were: violinist Regina Carter; Paul Cremo, a director at The Metropolitan Opera; Farah Jasmine Griffin, a professor of English, comparative literature and African-American studies at Columbia University; David Hadju, music critic for The Nation; and David Lang, a composer. 

 Kendrick accepted his Pulitzer Prize for Music inside Columbia University in New York City saying, “It’s an honor,” during his acceptance speech, after receiving a standing ovation, “Been writing my whole life, so to get this type of recognition is beautiful.” Kendrick was also granted $15,000 as the top prize winner for his musical accolade.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Kendrick revealed this about his creative process for the album, “The initial goal was to make a hybrid of my first two commercial albums," he said. "That was our total focus, how to do that sonically, lyrically, through melody – and it came out exactly how I heard it in my head. … It's all pieces of me. My musicality has been driving me since I was four years old. It's just pieces of me, man, and how I execute it is the ultimate challenge. Going from To Pimp a Butterfly to DAMN., that shit could have crashed and burned if it wasn't executed right. So I had to be real careful on my subject matter and how I weave in and out of the topics, where it still organically feels like me." Late last year, Lamar released a "collector's edition" of DAMN. with the original album's tracklist reversed — played back-to-front revealing even more depth to his musical palette of creativity shifting the album's focus to the contrasting revelations of self, something we can all relate to in the current times. 

 

 

Solange Knowles Honored for Owning Her Style at Parsons 2018 Benefit

Solange's Cultured Art and Music Conversation Over the Years...

solange-evening-standard.jpg
La+La+Anthony+70th+Annual+Parsons+Benefit+-naB8_kYpUdl.jpg

It has been her bold fashion choices, her artistic innovative risk-taking, and an overall unapologetic creative expression from entertainment to art that has extended her musical career into a cultural and artistic global hybrid in entertainment.  From her critically acclaimed album, A Seat at the Table, to performing for former President Barack Obama at the White House as well as her performance art shows at the Guggenheim Museum, the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas, and an art installation at London’s Tate Modern Museum, Solange has established herself as a visionary leader amongst the entertainment, fashion and visual art spaces.

Her 2016 critically acclaimed album "A Seat at the Table" honored and empowered Black womanhood in all of its beauty and complexities. Her confident and unapologetic foray into the art and fashion world has defined her artistic persona that is so beautifully different from her iconic megastar sister Beyonce. Most importantly, the 31-year old visual artist and singer-songwriter has used her platform to advocate for mental health, representation, and justice. 

thumb_24217_2922499.jpg

On Monday, May 21, 2018, Solange Knowles was honored by the Parsons School of Design in New York City for her global impact as a pioneering figure that has been committed to supporting future generations of designers by creating opportunities for inclusivity in design, entertainment, and fashion. Arriving with fellow eclectic music artists Kelela and Dev Hynes.  Solange stunned on the red carpet in an all black sleek and sexy jumpsuit with pepping cutouts designed by Parson's alum and current faculty member Shanel Campbell. 

The exciting evening featured special presentations by fellow ground-breaking and renowned music artists Erykah Badu, Missy Elliot, and Pharrell. Powerful newcomer rapper Vince Staples and media personality Lala Anthony kicked off Solange's honoring with an introduction of heartfelt remarks. The Parson's School of Design honoring at its 70th Annual Benefit is the latest accolade in Solange’s notable creative career. This year alone has been an exhilarating tour of recognition as Solange has been awarded a Grammy, the 2017 Glamour’s Woman of the Year Award, Billboard’s Impact Award, and Harvard University’s Artist of the Year Award. 

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 21: (L-R) Raul Lopez, Solange Knowles and Humberto Leon attend the 70th Annual Parsons Benefit on May 21, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images for The New School)

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 21: (L-R) Raul Lopez, Solange Knowles and Humberto Leon attend the 70th Annual Parsons Benefit on May 21, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images for The New School)

Solange’s latest art project was featured this past Spring in April at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, where she premiered Metatronia (Metatron’s Cube), 2018, an interdisciplinary video and dance performance art piece. The video visual highlights a new sculpture titled, Metatron’s Cube, 2018,  that was conceptualized and created by Solange. This summer the sculpture will be featured at select locations across the United States. 

Somehow Solange has kept her artistic passion burning and maturing with constant new projects in various artistic genres over the years, through the challenges of life. She spoke very candidly about being teased and often compared to others throughout her adolescent years that has not been easy for her during her acceptance speech at Parsons. But their is always a special admiration for the complexities in artist development that allowing them to produce mind blowing conscious work that reflects the times and transcends us in to the future. Art is one of those healing expression that unites us all and Solange has a way with the world when she lends her vision. It's been a pleasure watching her unfolding her beautiful multidimensional imagination.

Check out the photo gallery from Monday’s event.

The All-Star Melenated Magic in Levi's Latest Campaign Collaboration

xkarla_website_banner_main_levisxkarla_01.gif

Celebrity stylist Karla Welch is best known for her signature look on Hollywood's red carpets worn by A-list celebs such as Lorde, Justin Bieber, Tracee Ellis Ross and more. To pay homage to the 145th anniversary of Levi Strauss & Co. receiving its rivet-pocket patent, which birthed its iconic denim blue jean; Levi released its latest campaign on May 20, 2018, with Welch titled, "Levi & Karl's 501 Day"  

yara3447social.jpg

Welch collaborated with Levi adding her creative modern twist to the timeless aesthetic of Levi's 501 jeans featuring a 9-piece capsule collection.  The black and white campaign video filmed by her husband Matthew Welch featured newcomers and some of our favorite "IT" girls shining their unique and radiant Black Girl Magic all over the screen. Angela Davis, Tracee Ellis Ross, SZA, America Ferrera, Ke'Andra Samone, and  Natalie Manuel Lee were among the impressive roster of celebrities as they starred in the portrait campaign dancing along to Yoko Ono's 1973 song, "Yang Yang".

To find inspiration Welch pulled directly from her own childhood revealing that her collaboration was about reinventing not only what vintage looks like, but re-imagining not only what vintage looks like, but re-imagining what the future of vintage could be. "If people inhabit Mars 200 years from now, what are the kids going to wear? This idea of creating something that would eventually become an iconic piece of vintage clothing is the basis of the whole collection said, Welch in her press release.

sza_levis_xkarla_6339_-_publicity_-_embed.jpg

A portion of the profits from the capsule collection will be donated to "Everytown"   an organization committed to ending gun violence through gun safety education. Welch explained, "We're in this superficial business, which I love. I think fashion is an art, but I do look at myself and say, 'What am I doing?' So to be able to partner with the Levi foundation to do social good was everything. That's a new way of consumerism, to use your platform to do something meaningful. And when they agreed to donate to Everytown, I literally cried."

On May 16, 2018, at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Lauryn Hill, and SZA performed at the official campaign collection launch event. Each piece in the collection is priced from $150 -$450 available at select Levi stores levis.com, xcarla.com and Dover Street Market in New York. 

Check out the official campaign video below!!!