By George Kevin Jordan, AFRO Staff Writer
“Stay Fly” is a combination of large and small scale collages, and personal designer items, and does a deep dive into the relationship between Black people, luxury goods and fashion. For Edwards, the installation was a natural extension of her earlier work.
“It’s really a continuum of an exhibition that I had last year with my gallery in New York – ‘Fly Girl Fly,’” Richmond-Edwards said. “I’ve always dealt with the narrative that revolved around the subjects in my paintings, but I never addressed the obvious things in my work which was the fashion.”
The Detroit born and raised artist recalled the influence of midwest fashion and how it impacted her sensibilities.
“We’re were really known for our flamboyant style,” Richmond-Edwards said.” So you will have custom red suits with the red gators to match the red Cadillac. Real flamboyant and gaudy. That’s how I was dressing in high school.
Another big influence was her sister’s subscription to Ebony magazine and the Ebony Fashion Fair section in the back of the book.
“It was my first introduction to couture fashion,” Richmond-Edwards said. “You had these beautiful models and these frilly over the top Couture gowns and that was very impressionable to me.”
Because she liked to draw, Richmond-Edwards was able to draw and design her own dress for prom. She designed dresses for few other girls as well. Those moments shaped her love for fashion, design and art.
She would later graduate with a Bachelor of Art degree from Jackson State University in 2004, where she studied painting and drawing, and earn an MFA from Howard University in 2012.
Richmond-Edwards’ current work pushes beyond the stereotypes of luxury and asks us to hold several different complicated ideas at once.
“What does luxury mean to us as people of color in our community,” she said. “On one hands it means purchasing a Gucci purse. but it can also mean purchasing a knock off because it’s the logo that symbolizes fashion.”
“Luxury is also like customization – getting your dress made or even. If you look in terms of how we broadcast or show we have this upward mobility, we may not be able to invest in education or a house, I’m speaking of people who aren’t necessarily middle class, but we can rock some new shoes and that was very important for us. I have access to that.”
CulturalDC is celebrating 20 years of “creating affordable, sustainable artist spaces in Washington D.C. Richmond-Edwards’ work is the latest in an ongoing mobile art gallery space.
“Jamea’s installation in particular highlights the potential of CulturalDC’s Mobile Art Gallery. We are providing a unique opportunity for an artist to display their work directly next to the subjects they are in conversation with. We’re also thinking critically about other artistic disciplines, like fashion and their representation in our curatorial repertoire,” says Kristi Maiselman, Executive Director of CulturalDC on the website.
For Richmond-Edwards, the installation offers an opportunity for audiences to look at our cultural contribution and legacy in a different way.
“This is all American history,” Richmond-Edwards said. “Why do we want to match our outfits to our gators, to our cars? We’re looking at history in a way that hasn’t been addressed. Let’s talk about the way we subvert the systems and how we uplift ourselves.”
“Stay Fly” will run through April 13. This event is free and open to the public. For more information about the show or CulturalDC please visit the website at www.culturaldc.org