April Bey

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Artist Statement

The work explores the actual resilience of women as they navigate through high-impact experiences of the body, psyche and demands of womanhood. I’m fascinated in the ironic hypocrisy in the expectations of women and in my case—black women—to be sovereign and robust while at the same time inept and emotionally weak/unpredictable when a leadership role is sought.

The Divine/Venus work acts as a series of portraits of real women who were interviewed while in Ghana, West Africa and from whom each fabric was purchased. These women sell knock-off Chinese wax fabric (Hitarget). The elite in Ghana—often foreigners—are the only consumers of Ghana-made fabric while the women move through Chinese fabric so they can maintain cultural style at an affordable price.

The Venus of Willendorf appears as motif—Woman and the universality of expectation owning this identity comes with.

The process in all of my work directly emulates the labor women execute on a daily basis to persist—it is uniquely and defiantly “feminine” executed in aggressively “masculine” ways. Rule-based, all materials that intersect with the Hitarget wax fabric are made in China. The needles, thread, fabric, needle threaders are all low-quality products made in China but that market to the target audience of souls living in poverty.

In Share If You Agree the handmade paper was made with high-risk young teen mothers in an alternative school through a program that empowers women of color who have been marginalized. It references mental health and social media judgementalizing.