Sunday, September 16, 2007

iona rozeal brown



This sister has some flavor in her prints that address race and identify on several levels that explore the state of being. Her works are shown at Speilman College. Here is acopy of her bio it speaks volumes about who she is and her views of race and identity.


back in 1997, i read an article in Transitions written by Joe Wood. it was titled "The Yellow Negro," and subsequently introduced me to a group of Japanese youth called ganguro who darkened their skin and paid top dollar to have their hair permed into afros.

sure, i'd seen white youth here in the states hang out with black youth, adapt the pimp/stroll/gait, the slang/lingo/lexicon, the whole nine. Bo Derek took it to new heights with those cornrows. and then these Japanese youth were trying to be as black as they could. this was different.

one way for me to talk about the ganguro is with the help of Japanese woodblock prints from the Edo period. Ukioy-e, the floating world, was a time of decadence: new art forms, high fashion, geisha, samurai - codes, honorifics, passages, accoutrements, style-flossing, whips, bling, rhymes, beats, cutting, scratching, fresh gear, dope ropes, b-boy stances, sampling.

i re-present these prints to represent the present while maintaining connections with the past. hip-hop, and therefore black culture (should) do the same thing. although not always receiving a fair cut, if any cut at all, black people have supplied, and continue to supply the world with marketable talents. "you all and your music. you're just so FREE!" this freedom emitted by hip-hop, jazz, gospel, blues, the djembe, speaks, attracts, seduces, mesmerizes, hypnotizes, educates and engulfs.

...blackness...coolness ...freedom...free like we?...they don't know who we be (DMX)...we real cool (Gwendolyn Brooks)...cool like dat (Digable Planets...check the jazz group in the video).

part of the romantic idea is that we are all mirror images of each other. beyond the ganguro phenomenon, there are many connections between these two cultures; on a good day, the relationship is reciprocal, the dark-faced ganguro may not be popular anymore, but the acquisition of hip-hop accoutrements, both visual and verbal, is vogue, fly, fresh...you get the picture.

iona rozeal brown
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