SELAH VIBE

The Blog of Rashayla Marie Brown.
All works copyrighted 2011-14 unless noted. Full Portfolio at cargocollective.com/rmb
Many of my photographs are now incredibly mundane - pictures of black people lounging, relaxing, doing nothing but existing in real time. However, I have not lost the desire to portray a spectacle, to get lost in the stereotypes that persist in representations of black women that I also love to enact and perform, but even more, to consider style and the artifice of adornment as substance. Old habits die hard.
Today, this piece is Keïta and Sherman Had a Baby (2014). Tomorrow, the title may be any of the following:
Near Threatened
Endangered Species
Passing for a Leopard
You can’t see me, fool
Imitation of Life
Equal Opportunist
The Domestication Effect
True Beast
Dionysius, the Dying God
For My Grandma Who Passed for White, then Stopped
Living a Lie is a Poor Substitute
Jeremiah 13:23: Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.
Fuck you, I like leopard
50 Shades of Slay (Courtesy of Danielle Rennalls)

Many of my photographs are now incredibly mundane - pictures of black people lounging, relaxing, doing nothing but existing in real time. However, I have not lost the desire to portray a spectacle, to get lost in the stereotypes that persist in representations of black women that I also love to enact and perform, but even more, to consider style and the artifice of adornment as substance. Old habits die hard.

Today, this piece is Keïta and Sherman Had a Baby (2014). Tomorrow, the title may be any of the following:

Near Threatened

Endangered Species

Passing for a Leopard

You can’t see me, fool

Imitation of Life

Equal Opportunist

The Domestication Effect

True Beast

Dionysius, the Dying God

For My Grandma Who Passed for White, then Stopped

Living a Lie is a Poor Substitute

Jeremiah 13:23: Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.

Fuck you, I like leopard

50 Shades of Slay (Courtesy of Danielle Rennalls)

Come Down or Cat’s Eye (2014)
Part of an ongoing interest in appropriating slang as an inspiration for making photographs. My sister Abrina Marie Brown is the subject of this one. She has the coveted hazel eyes of our immediate family. Our Dad calls me Cat.

Come Down or Cat’s Eye (2014)

Part of an ongoing interest in appropriating slang as an inspiration for making photographs. My sister Abrina Marie Brown is the subject of this one. She has the coveted hazel eyes of our immediate family. Our Dad calls me Cat.

Just a few flyers of events I’ve organized this year.

"Artist-as" Phenomenon

I’ve just accepted a new position at SAIC: Director of Student Affairs for Diversity and Inclusion. I’ll be able to form and implement school-wide diversity initiatives and continue on my path as a greedy artist. I don’t take the responsibility lightly, and I hope to effect change and create further opportunities for more underrepresented artists, while also mindfully expanding my studio practice. 

I’ve updated my bio on my site, as not only this new title seems important, but my background as a DJ, curator, and independent researcher does as well. I’ve realized that they all feed into how I look at the archive, how I consider community when shooting and performing, and why I feel no commitment to one particular medium but to a rigorous exploration of several at once. 

The “artist-as-curator/scholar/administrator” phenomenon really speaks to my experience; I was never interested in one way of exploring the ideas and concepts that underpin my practice. Several of the students I work with call me the “Beyonce of the Art World” since I have a Renaissance woman approach to art making and living. I’ve always strongly felt that my relationship to music and poetry impacted my research and photography, as well as the day jobs I chose. In my work at SAIC, I’ve been able to create events around misrepresented and underrepresented ideas and people, which in my opinion are often the most important of our time. They indicate the complexity of being a human being: our attempts to define our interiority and subjectivity within a broader society and culture over which we have differing levels of control. It’s been difficult, satisfying work that has led me to a richer engagement with the world around me.

My new website!

Hey y’all, I wanted to share my new website here at cargocollective. I hope in the next couple of weeks to properly customize the code and collapse all the domains I own. (It’s always hard to say goodbye to a domain - I let go of theblackbetty.com and am still regretting it). In the meantime, I thought it best to share with the world, so that maybe I could get some feedback on it. Thanks for checking out my work!

Size Queen (2014)
Big books, small beds, big pictures, small companions, big tings a gwaan, small luxuries.

Size Queen (2014)

Big books, small beds, big pictures, small companions, big tings a gwaan, small luxuries.

Rashayla Marie Brown: On Her Intersectionality Critique Initiative | College Art Association Columbia Blog

Thank you, La Keisha Leek, for giving me an opportunity to share my work in academia to a broader audience. I’ve been running this series since fall of 2013, which allows for expansion in our notions of community and education in the arts. I’ve been thinking a lot about the “artist-as-” phenomenon, and the idea of artist-as-scholar and artist-as-educator aligns quite squarely with my practice.

http://blogs.colum.edu/caa/rashayla-marie-brown-on-her-intersectionality-critique-initiative/

Open Letter To My Fellow Young Artists and Scholars Who Work On The Margins

You know who you are.

Your parents may be immigrants. You yourself may be from a place far from where you currently live. You may have been the only (insert minority) in your art and theory classes. Your sexuality and gender (or lack thereof) may become a topic of conversation before your work does. You may have grown up without access to museums and good art supplies, but you still drew, sculpted, took pictures, or performed for your family and friends. Your beliefs or body type may make you a target for violence or ridicule. You may make work about your identity or you may not. Like all artists and scholars, you want to share your work and ideas.

You are reminded daily or occasionally but you are reminded nonetheless: you are “other.”

To you, I declare that community is not passé. It is the foundation upon which we stand, no matter how post-modern, irreverent, or solitary our practices. Also, I propose that heritage and the history of those who came before you is not a burden, but a source of strength. Tribute, homage, and respect are not just generational mandates - it is how your foundation is continually fortified. Community is how artists survive perpetual historical amnesia at the hands of the gatekeepers of the canon from which we seek acceptance.

I’m not going to lie to you. There are rewards for this amnesia - people will call you avant-garde or controversial, you don’t seem hindered by oppression, you aren’t didactic, you will gain access into places - alone - because you are one of the chosen ones who don’t challenge the institution. But you will be in the ivory tower, alone.

We can explore such ideas as the post-black, the post-racial, and the post-feminist because our ancestors’ world was a world of firsts before the post. I appeal to you to acknowledge your influences, publicly and loudly. I implore you to do your research and cite your sources. I ask you to share. Do not be lulled by the open gate or window, and then close it behind you so no one else like you can enter. A sense of competition is bred into the art world that makes you feel like you will lose if you aren’t the chosen one. Especially to the radiant child and the wunderkind, I ask you to open your hands and release your anxiety.

Perhaps most importantly, reach back and open doors to your elders. They need us, too. I applaud William Cordova’s work on the Black Panthers, Rashid Johnson for curating Sam Gilliam, Mickalene Thomas’ inter-generational show of black photographers at Rhona Hoffman, Clifford Owens’ historic work Anthology, LaMont Hamilton’s 75 Portraits project, and Eliza Myrie, Dawoud Bey, Candida Alvarez, and Theaster Gates for organizing the Black Artists Retreat.

Since Terry Adkins’ passing yesterday, I have been shocked at how many people did not know this brilliant man and his work. However, I have taken comfort that I belong to a community of people in the art world who take care of each other. “Are you alright?” “How is so-and-so taking the news?” “Do you want to talk?” “How will we make sure Terry is not forgotten?” I met the man briefly and have only been in this community for a few years, yet I feel totally enveloped by support. LaMont Hamilton and I were marveling about his impact and how we feel as emerging artists to have had the chance to share words and ideas with him. How good it feels to know I am not the only one who wants to celebrate his legacy.

This is not only about respecting your elders. It is also about self-care. The threat of addiction, isolation, and fear of losing your spot can have fatal consequences. We’ve seen this with our beloved Jean-Michel Basquiat. Take care of yourself and others on the margins with you. None of us are free until all of us are free.

May you all find comfort and power from your community in art and in history.

Brother Terry, may your legacy live forever.

In solidarity,

Rashayla Marie Brown
February 9, 2014
Chicago, IL

The postcard for the inaugural exhibition for the 2013-14 BOLT Residents at the Chicago Artists Coalition. My image “Landscape for the Girls” (2014) is featured. 

Work in Progress (2014) - Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, Blaxploitation film tropes, and the phrase “Chillin’ like a villain.”

Work in Progress (2014) - Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, Blaxploitation film tropes, and the phrase “Chillin’ like a villain.”

This is my first time having an actual studio, and it’s been a learning experience of how to manage a photography-based practice when so much of my work happens in computer labs and location shoots. Since this past summer, I have been an artist-in-residence at the Chicago Artists Coalition. The BOLT residency provides subsidized studio space, scheduled studio visits with local leaders in the art world, workshops, and a solo show. The staff has been amazing in making sure our space is communal, yet private enough to get work done.

Check out me and my fellow residents at http://chicagoartistscoalition.org/bolt-2013-2014/. We have a show coming up in February, Preview 3, so stay tuned for that!

iamkiam:

The Jerry Blossom Brigade
at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
for Chances Dances: Summoning a New Queer Reality
MCA First Fridays, Dec 6, 2013

Photography by Jackie Elizabeth Rivas

The Jerry Blossom Brigade:
Kiam Marcelo Junio/Jerry Blossom, Rashayla Marie Brown (squad leader), Alex Paul YoungDove Drury-HornbuckleDarren BarrereKevin SparrowCathy KimChad ChaneyAdriana MagnoliaAnnie DriscollBrett LayneNicole ReneeMarie SochaCorrine Mina 

This past weekend, I was honored to be invited to a gathering of black artists, curators, and writers organized by Theaster Gates, Candida Alvarez, and Dawoud Bey. The event, simply called B.A.R. (Black Artist Retreat), was an unbelievable gathering of minds in Chicago, where we talked about the challenges that black artists face as well as connected across generations. If I had any doubt that Chicago was the best place for me as a young artist, those doubts were fully set to rest. Hopefully we can do this again each year and continue to foster the kind of community building we need.

Solo Exhibit for Gene Siskel Film Center

I have been recently afforded the opportunity for a solo exhibition at the Black Harvest Film Festival in the Gene Siskel Film Center. This is a wonderful opportunity to show photographs from my show earlier this year, Free Mason, to a new audience. Looking forward to the opening festivities tonight, where Chicago’s own Theaster Gates will be presented an award.

Many thanks to SAIC’s Student Union Galleries and the Siskel Film Center.

http://www.siskelfilmcenter.org/blackharvest2013

I’ve been invited to threewalls’s Power of Ten Auction and 10th Birthday Bash. The proceeds will benefit the stellar ongoing programming of threewalls. Food trucks, acrobats, and drinks …plus awesome artwork by me and artists representing the best arts organizations in Chicago! 
threewallspoweroften:

RASHAYLA MARIE BROWN, POMBRA GIRA III, 2012, ARCHIVAL INKJET PRINT
Rashayla Marie Brown is an interdisciplinary artist, curator, and writer. She received a BA in Sociology and African-American Studies from Yale University in 2004 and a BFA in Photography and Video from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2013. Her work primarily negotiates race, sexuality, spirituality, and popular culture in the formation of personal mythologies. She has been awarded numerous fellowships and grants, including the Anna Louise Raymond Fellowship, Chicago Artist Coalition’s BOLT Residency, the Archibald Motley Grant, and SAIC’s Graduating Student Leadership Award.
Curated by community partner Arts Incubator in Washington Park

I’ve been invited to threewalls’s Power of Ten Auction and 10th Birthday Bash. The proceeds will benefit the stellar ongoing programming of threewalls. Food trucks, acrobats, and drinks …plus awesome artwork by me and artists representing the best arts organizations in Chicago! 

threewallspoweroften:

RASHAYLA MARIE BROWN, POMBRA GIRA III, 2012, ARCHIVAL INKJET PRINT

Rashayla Marie Brown is an interdisciplinary artist, curator, and writer. She received a BA in Sociology and African-American Studies from Yale University in 2004 and a BFA in Photography and Video from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2013. Her work primarily negotiates race, sexuality, spirituality, and popular culture in the formation of personal mythologies. She has been awarded numerous fellowships and grants, including the Anna Louise Raymond Fellowship, Chicago Artist Coalition’s BOLT Residency, the Archibald Motley Grant, and SAIC’s Graduating Student Leadership Award.

Curated by community partner Arts Incubator in Washington Park