Tracing the history of social movements in the United States and the Caribbean, Firelei Báez: Bloodlines presents a new body of work by Firelei Báez. Báez, born in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, is inspired by lineages of black resistance and works primarily with large-scale drawings on paper, making connections that further our understanding of dispersed groups.
Bloodlines showcases paintings and drawings depicting textiles, hair designs, and body ornaments, linking symbols of power with human gestures. The work is labor intensive, delicate, rich in color, and presents female subjects as strongly connected to both a past and present understanding of race. In several paintings women are featured in elaborate tignons, an 18th century headdress imposed by law for women of color in New Orleans and a tradition that although imposed as a form of oppression became, through elaborate patterning and design, a symbol of power and beauty. Azabache, gemstones carved into fists and worn in Latin American cultures as protection from evil spirits, and panthers, a symbol claimed by the Black Panthers, the African American revolutionary party founded in the 1960s, also adorn the work. The exhibition also includes a number of new works shown for the first time.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.