Artist Feature: April Bey

Editor Julia Alora, Art, March 13th, 2020

"Visionaries, Womanist Matriarchies, Earth analysis, black thought, and queer adventures in design."

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From the artist:

Welcome to Atlantica

On planet Atlantica, Grace Jones, Nina Simone and James Baldwin wear non-functional space helmets while smoking cigarettes in zero gravity because functional physics can’t impact their flyness. Their banners fly high in every governmental building where meetings are held only to discuss grits of glitter and shea butter application—glitter is our currency.

The series introduces us to the planet Atlantica, Bey’s home planet and also home to visionaries, Womanist Matriarchies, Earth analysis, black thought, and queer adventures in design. Atlantica is a joyous AfroFuturist meme and also a serious paean to women’s resilience in the face of colonialism, specifically black women who are expected to be sovereign and robust while at the same time assumed to be inept and emotionally weak when leadership roles are sought. Made in another universe that parallels, critiques, celebrates and satirizes our own, Atlantica occupies exploited space, offering up a fictitious world where labels are non-existent and we are allowed to float within our self-defined identities.

Afro Futurism, Afro Surrealism and an examination of colonialization and post-colonial ramifications are explored. West African knock-off Chinese wax fabric is hand sewn into works to reference and connect colonial tactics with active neo-colonialism taking place throughout the African diaspora. The work examines the artist’s duality in culture, having grown up in The Bahamas and with American family, and how this impacts her observation of Earth within this narrative of Atlantica as a safe space in space.

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April Bey grew up in the Caribbean (Nassau, Bahamas) and now resides and works in Los Angeles, CA as a contemporary visual artist and art educator. Bey’s work is interdisciplinary focusing on introspective observances of American, Bahamian and black culture, the African diaspora and post-colonial ramifications, social media, AfroFuturism  and AfroSurrealism.

She has an academic background in drawing and painting (BFA Ball State University and MFA California State University, Northridge). Bey is in the permanent collection of The California African American Museum, The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas and The Current, Baha Mar in Nassau, Bahamas.

Bey has launched 4 solo exhibitions: Picky Head at Liquid Courage Gallery in The Bahamas, COMPLY at Coagula Curatorial in Chinatown, Los Angeles, MADE IN SPACE at Band of Vices Gallery in West Adams, LA and most recently Welcome to Atlantica at Fullerton College Art Gallery.

Bey travels extensively for her work—mostly to West Africa. She is both a practicing contemporary artist and art educator having taught a controversial course at Art Center College of Design called Pretty Hurts analyzing process-based art and Beyoncé Social Media Feminism.  Bey is currently a tenured professor of Art at Glendale College.

Instagram: aprilbey_
Website: www.april-bey.com

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Julia Alora

Julia Alora is a transplanted Portland sculptoress inspired by biology and the natural world. Her works can be found lurking in the woods, guarding her studio, and in co-op art houses around the city.