Last week, my BFF Laurie Cumbo (you know Laurie Cumbo, Director and Founder of MoCADA – that awesome museum in Ft. Greene) and I, got all dolled up to attend Brooklyn Museum’s Annual Spring Artists Ball. Of course, girls like us don’t really need an excuse to play dress up but this seemed like not only an opportunity to get decked out with all the bells and whistles, but to immortalize the occasion as well. As art aficionados, we’ve seen our share of historic photos of legendary icons such as W.E.B. duBois hanging out with Kwame Nkrumah, Marcus Garvey at the 1924 UNIA parade, a stage shot of Ossie, Ruby and Sidney, and even the classic of Malcolm and Martin. Legendary photographers such as James Van Der Zee and Gordon Parks captured many of those historical moments. Although I won’t dare compare Laurie and I to our predecessors who have blazed the trail that we stand on today (at least not yet), I definitely think that we are well on our way to making history ourselves. That’s why I believe it’s important that we document the present, which will in the future serve as our community's record of Black History. With this is mind, we called up a very dear friend who has been called the Gordon Parks of our generation, Russell K. Frederick, to capture the moment.
I don't know which was more fun, actually going to the Gala or the Bedstuy's Next Top Model Photo Shoot that took place beforehand. Either way, it was a momentous occasion and Russell happily came to capture it. What makes this series of photographs even more special, at least in my mind, is that he shot them on film, which is a dying art form in this digital age of cameras where everybody’s a “photographer.” My Bedstuy block served as the perfect backdrop - we only had to walk around the corner to pose in front of one of the neighborhoods many gorgeous murals that bears the faces of leaders we look to for inspiration. Something else that added to the over-the-top nature of this experience is the fact that Russell is currently working on a new exhibition featuring photographs that he’s been shooting in Bedstuy over the past several years. In addition to curating shows, who doesn’t want to have their image hanging on the wall in a timeless exhibition of classic black and white photography? I’m not sure whether or not any of these photos will make the cut, but the photo shoot was definitely one for the books and set the tone for us to represent Bedstuy properly at the Gala!
Special Thanks to Khalima Ansari for doing our make-up, Shareen Vintage for my gorgeous dress, and my going away gift from Jewel - those incredible pair of earrings!