acrylic on canvas
So late last summer I gathered with a bunch of my friends at the Paramount theater in Oakland, so excited to see Erykah Badu on tour in support of her album New Amerykah Pt. 1: 4th World War, the sound of of which had been wafting through Oakland all summer long. I was bumping The Healer as I took my morning jogs around Lake Merritt, the sounds of Honey were bumping out of car stereos, and the album was on repeat at many a house party. So when we all gathered in that auditorium we were HYPED to say the least.
The lights dimmed and we were greeted by a funkadelic instrumental intro that woulda made Parliament proud. Badu stepped out onto the stage with her giant afro and took to the drum machine. The whole stage was lit in shades of bright pink and green. I kept expecting the mothership to land at any moment! That's when I saw her, The Funkstress. She was bright blue, and emerging like a newborn babe from a giant vagina (now pretty much abstracted in the finished piece). But the feel that I wanted to capture is still there: a new woman emerging, who is free.
As I worked on this piece, I studied album art from a lot of old P-Funk album covers for inspiration. I love that artwork, because it contains so many different elements from the past and future, and they're all stirred together in this colorful stew. I've also found that the music touches on the same themes I work with in my art. The idea of healing, transformation, or being transported to another world. So much of the music and performance has this underlying theme of: we were brought to this new land where we aren't free, and we can't necessarily go back to Africa, we're outcasts in America...let's go to outer space! You have this amazing album art, performance, and music that is a hybrid of all three: Black Americans with love for their African roots, who are looking toward the future/a place of freedom. They were creating an alternate reality.
I strive for the same thing in creating characters placed in other-worldly settings, or with my heroine Azmera who journeys back in time to heal the psyche of her people and makes her way towards the Electric Homeland.
The funk tip I'm on will probably continue for awhile (I'm currently hard at work in the studio on my 3rd funky goddess, the first one has already been sold) At some point I'll post a picture of all of them together.