April Bey’s introspective, interdisciplinary artwork and social critique is inspired by the place she was born, The Bahamas. In this exhibition, the artist continues exploring her perception of a universe she has named ‘Atlantica’ – which is also the title of her past exhibition for the California African American Museum – in which Black folks create life and sustainability for the planet. She aims to renovate the past’s narrative of textiles to create a futuristic vision for Black and queer people all around the world. In this space, she intends to create a decolonial practice where Black people are the ones who represent wealth, enjoyment and self-care. The result is a perfectly harmonised composition of assorted materials such as wax fabrics, eco fur and sequins.
It is fascinating how in When You’re On Another Planet And They Just Fly, the artist represents some of the figures and motifs in the display, using calathea leaves to Pepto Bismol pink, altogether inspired by the vivid colours and memories from her home in the Caribbean. Bey takes a step forward in imagining her planet Atlantica, full of tropical outlines, textiles, acrylic nails and majestic Black figures that create exalted portrayals.
As part of her artistic niche, April Bey regularly uses her voice and craft to uplift and recognise and empower other Black creatives, business owners and related subcultures, as well reflecting other topics focused on feminism or queerness through photography, video, music and oversized mixed-media painted and textile works. For this occasion, she portrays two towering Black cowgirls confronting the hyper-masculine image that surrounds rodeos, in favour of changing the whitewashed historical development of the American West.