StudioBE, New Orleans
I had an amazing time on my girls getaway trip to New Orleans to bring in 2017. Me and 3 of my closest gal pals took our talents to NOLA for 5 days to eat beignets and Big Freedia bounce all around town and it was dope AF. During our stay we ate tons of creole food for the soul, swag surfed into the new year at the New Orleans Jazz Market, toured a historic slave plantation, twerked along Bourbon Street for beads, danced on stage behind a jazz band at Snug Harbor and somehow caught most of it on Snapchat without our phones dying.
Besides acting like a complete tourist and eating alligator, one of the most standout moments on this trip had to be my time spent at StudioBE. This exhibit, “Ephemeral Eternal,” was developed by artist, Brandon “B-Mike” Odums in a warehouse in the Bywater area, just a few blocks from where we stayed.
On display were large scale graffiti murals, mixed media portraits of prominent black figures on canvas and plywood, various thought-provoking sculptures and so much more. All of these pieces were spread throughout the 30,000 square foot warehouse in different rooms. The first room initially made me emotional, dedicated to black youth and a new generation.
“Listen to the KIDS bro…”
I loved these portraits that had old school buttons from the 1960s and 1970s that remixed old phrases to ones suited for today’s hip-hop generation. B-Mike rephrased “Free Bobby” into “Free Boosie,” “Stop Lynching” into “Stop Snitchin” and Malcolm X’s “By Any Means Necessary” into Kanye West’s clever spin on that quote “Buy Any Jeans Necessary” from his song “Good Morning.”
I also enjoyed the “miseducation” section of the room that was set up in form of a classroom. It was interesting that he turned old desks into art.
The huge blocks with children and different occupations depicted on each side was really cool too. I instantly thought of Nas’ “I Can” anthem, with the idea that kids of today can be anything they aspire to be in life. I admire him finding hope in achievement when black youth are wiped off the faced of this earth every day and are often told they should think less of themselves.
On large walls were graffiti with these plywood heads of several African-American activists and writers, such as Dr. Cornell West, Langston Hughes, and Angela Davis.
B-Mike also gave a detailed description on the exhibit name on a mural.
He also featured a guest artist by the name of Rickey Henry on this wall. I appreciated all the Ali that was shown. It was a beautiful way to pay respect to the champ. Long live THE WORLD’S GREATEST, RIP.
I also loved him here as well, by B-Mike.
Also in this room was a mural dedicated to young black men who lost their lives in the hands of police brutality in the last few years.
Here was a rebuilt version of a basketball court with a sad, but true statistic stating black men are more likely to spend time in prison than to make it to the NBA.
I found this quote on another large mural and it spoke to me. So much, I decided to share it on my Instagram. Despite society’s efforts to eliminate or ruin African-Americans in any way imaginable, they often forget who has beem the driving force behind pop-culture, music, dance, sports, etc. throughout the years.
Nothing But Love 4 U
The next room surrounded a theme of love shown in many different ways. B-Mike pointed out the love and dedication of historical pioneer MLK Jr., the love King had for his wife, the underlining theme of love in the bible and most importantly of all, the love we have for ourselves.
I loved these beautiful murals of Martin and Coretta with the phrase “Love Supreme,” which can also be found on a real-life T-shirt on B-Mike’s website.
There was more dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr. I admire B-Mike’s use of the crown in his work, paying homage to Basquiat. Black men and women really are kings and queens. It’s nice to see it in his art.
Here was a mural with an excerpt from a letter Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver wrote from prison.
This lovely biblical verse was first introduced to me by Lauryn Hill in her interpretation of it in her song “Tell Him” off of “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” album. It’s a very beautiful perspective on what love is.
This may simply look like huge wooden letters…
But actually they actually turn into private booths to write phrases in. Inside the “B,” you could write what you think doesn’t allow you to have love and toss it in the flame of fire.
In the “E,” you can write a down a positive affirmation to look yourself in the mirror and say! My girl Kiki wrote her favorite Jesse Williams quote and shared it.
Next came what might’ve been my favorite room. In a great city like New Orleans, it’s hard to imagine that such devastation occurred due to Hurricane Katrina over 10 years ago. While the city stands strong on solid ground now, residents still remember the disaster vividly. B-Mike turned that tragedy into triumph in a room in his exhibit dedicated to his city that drowned in dark times and rose above to keep hope afloat.
This living room setting was touching. The purple paint represented how high the water was when houses were flooded.
One Man Can Change the World
The last room was uplifting as well as insightful. In this room, one could find stories shared about the artist on Instagram and pieces from his first exhibit, #ProjectBE.
I love that in this room he included himself among African-American greats who shifted the culture through their personal art. In this room, were more colorful graffiti works of important black figures such as Nina Simone, Bob Marley, Malcolm X, James Baldwin, and more.
Upon the leaving was a board that collected work from young visiting artists and media clippings from the community.
I left StudioBE touched. Not only was this exhibit creative, but it was culturally impactful, for US and by US. I was captivated by this exhibit, visually and spiritually. The artwork resonated with me, so much that I decided to share it. It referenced black history and made light for promising futures. I can only hope B-Mike continues to use his art to connect to other viewers such as myself for years to come.
You can check out more from this exhibit and B-Mike below!
Personal Website: http://brandanodums.com/
Instagram: @studio_be_ , @bmike2c
Keep up with more of my Out & Abouts like these on my social media. I posted a few of these photos on MY Instagram and Snapchat @ManiCashHoes and my Twitter page @Hola_Manito. I heard I’m one of those “I like art” type girls.
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