Lexi Black & Laura Hornby
“Amidst the future and present there is a memory table,” by Firelei Báez
When was the last time you considered ‘twerking’ akin to artistry? Dominican artist Firelei Báez draws inspiration from behavior considered to be antinormative (opposing standard behavioral norms) for modern women, with twerking videos on YouTube providing source images for her craft. Throughout much of her work, Báez engages with the feminine body: how it is perceived and used to challenge social hierarchies. This focus on dynamism of the body carries through the handmade paper series from which this paper piece is taken. The role of black women in Caribbean culture is emphasized, while Báez also employs scrollwork and elaborate ornamentation of Persian miniatures and European manuscripts. Báez began by forming landscapes, but moved to representing features of the body as she found paper to exhibit the nature of skin, a medium she refers to as the “surrogate self.” In this multi-color piece, she uses marbling, a traditional papermaking technique unique in that it incorporates bodily gestures in the physical creation of the work. Although ‘twerking’ may not be what comes to mind when you view Amidst the future and present there is a memory table, the human body and its expression of creativity is clearly captured throughout the piece.