“I think of beauty as an absolute necessity. I don’t think it’s a privilege or an indulgence. It’s not even a quest. I think it’s almost like knowledge, which is to say, it’s what we were born for."
We are pleased to present The Crown of Glory, a solo show about beauty and Black hair by our spring artist in residence Ghislaine Sabiti.
Sabiti’s work often responds to particular historical narratives. Here she presents a series of ceramic sculptures of head wraps and women’s busts focused on female youth and maternity through the story of Tignon Law. This law dictated that Black women in 18th century Spanish Louisiana wear cloth headwraps in public. In an act of resistance against this forced erasure of their identity, women of African descent instead wore the headscarf to serve as an emblem of their heritage–in Africa, headwraps are worn as a crown for special ceremonies and everyday life.
During her residency - the first time exploring clay for the artist - Sabiti worked on mixed media pieces that combine ceramics with fabric, oil, embroidery, and borosilicate glass. With her own personal technique, she created complex surfaces by collaging varied elements from her Congolese heritage -such as Kuba textiles-, French upbringing, and Western art history. Her use of materials allowed her to build mesmerizing textures to which she incorporated bold and vibrant colors. The sculptures are accompanied by three of her most recent paintings, works that allude to the constant and perpetual mutation of bodies in our society. To show this, some characters are missing body parts, and some other characters are stitched onto the canvas.
In this body of work, Sabiti aims to build a bridge between communities by highlighting the media’s influence on society’s definitions of beauty. By examining our own identities, she hopes to prompt social change and to empower us to find beauty in uniqueness and diversity.