Fly Girl Fly: Black Womanhood, Boosting Culture, and Who Owns What?
A visual cacophony of brightly colored, mixed-media paintings adorn the walls of the Kravets Wehby , in Fly Girl Fly, its latest showing by the artist Jamea Richmond-Edwards. The works themselves vary in size -- ranging from smaller, neatly framed works on paper to larger scale pieces, on canvas -- but they all capture a similar stoicism in the faces of the young Black women depicted as the main subjects.
Richmond-Edwards' Fly Girl Fly examines the relationship between Black women and 'boosting' culture. While those narratives don’t play out in a literal sense, the whimsical environments surrounding each ink-drawn woman certainly captures the notion of respectability.
To 'boost' is essentially the act of thieving retail items -- typically high-end, luxury brands -- and selling them on the street for much less than their intended value. In turn, these goods are then distributed through the black market and socio-economic afflicted neighborhoods, for a profit. The connection to and emphasis of that concept is shown through strong visual juxtapositions.
Enchanted backdrops of pinks, yellows, purples, and blues seem to enfold the young women drawn in each work, creating a striking contrast to their gray faces and hands, collaged with contrastingly bright papers and other mixed media. It's this contrast, specifically, that narrates the nature of 'boosting culture'; their surroundings and attire speak to the idea that they are glorified through these extravagant garments that don’t necessarily fit their current circumstances.
Not only that, but Richmond-Edwards firmly captures the beauty that is Black womanhood. Her inked lines tell the story of resilience and strength, while she questions the idea of respectability, as it relates to status and wealth, through subtle facial expressions and empowered posing. In doing so, these works as a whole raise questions of class, commodity, culture, and the ways in which we measure our worth through our possessions. When considering these conceptual dynamics at play while viewing the works, the young women of the pieces are, in so many ways, asking, “who owns what?”
Jamea Richmond-Edwards' Fly Girl Fly will be on view through April 28, 2018 at Kravets Wehby.