acrylic on paper
Unframed: 49 3/4 × 38 in. (126.37 × 96.52 cm)
VMFA, Richmond, VA
- Born 1966
- Hometown Washington, DC
- Lives and Works New York, NY
- MFA, Yale University School of Art, New Haven, CT, 2002
- Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan, ME, 1999
- BFA, San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, CA, 1999
- Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY, 1996
The artist Iona Rozeal Brown uses her large-scale acrylic paintings to wryly comment on the ductile and ever-changing essence of cultural identity, most often by creating visual mash-ups of two disparate but in fact subtly harmonious subcultures: the samurai and geishas depicted in traditional Japanese ukiyo-e printmaking and the contemporary world of hip-hop. Trained in the art of ukiyo-e herself, Brown pursues a transcultural aesthetic in both her imagery and her technique, mixing the racial, gender, and class issues in her subject matter with the deftness of a DJ.
A recurring character in Brown's work is Yoshi, a wise female war hero—sporting an afro and classical Japanese garb—whose enlightened state allows her to exist as a communicant between divinities and mortals, guiding those still on earth. The artist's paintings have been widely exhibited, and she received a solo show at Cleveland's Museum of Contemporary Art in 2010. In 2011 she was commissioned to create a performance for the Performa biennial.
Brown—who styles her name in all lowercase letters— uses a3 as an abbreviation for “Afro-Asiatic allegory,” her series of prints and paintings based on the style of the Japanese ganguro (literally “blackface”) girls. These young women reject Japanese conventions of beauty— dark, straight hair and pale skin—by lightening and perming their hair and darkening their skin. a3 blackface #59 borrows stylistically from Japanese woodblock prints of the Edo period (1615–1868). Known as ukiyo-e prints, these popular, middle-class images depicted the shifting fashions and chaotic lives of the Tokyo amusement district. Brown, who is also a disc jockey, found resonances between the transience of the contemporary entertainment industry and the “floating world” of Edo Japan.
- Define the following terms: a) Wry, b) Disparate, c) Mash-up, d) Allegory
- How do Brown's skills as a DJ support her work as a visual artist?
- Summarize the SUBJECT, COMPOSITION, and CONTENT in Brown's work.