Sol'Sax

The Congo has a tradition of power figures called Nkisi literally, medicine from heaven, medicine bought from heaven by a Mojo which means a soul from Heaven. This medicine can be herbs, ideas or talents bought to earth and shared with the living to bring health and joy to society. The blues men would sing about going to the crossroads, a symbol for the African Nature Angel Elegba, who would give them a Mojo hand. African American culture has been getting allot of help from our ancestors in heaven and the nature angels those ancestors celebrated. The Blues and spirituals, Jazz and rock and roll, Soul and Disco to Hip Hop today, all of these cultural expressions have operated as medicine to American Society. These cultural elixirs have healed much of the deeply antisocial and violent mental illness of European Supremacy that dominated so much of this countries history.

 

Sol’Sain’t Blue Sea’Smyth
The Original Queen Mother of the Blues

Mixed Media

 

Sol’Sain’t Blue Sea’Smyth synchronizes Yemoja with Bessie Smith to celebrate the blues lament and its roots in Yoruba culture. The Queen mother mask that Bessie Smith wears in this work was chosen to represent Yemoja. Yemoja literally means, the mother of the children of fishes. The Yoruba knew we evolved from fishes far before Darwin. The word mother in Yoruba translates as the owner of pain. Pain of childbirth and also the pain of letting your child go when they leave the nest. In Yoruba cosmology the pain that the ocean felt when our ancestors left for the land is one of the first reasons for the blues.

 

Sol'Sain't Bob Merrily The Original Don Dada

Mixed Media

 

Sol'Sain't Bob Merrily synchronizes Dada with Bob Marley. Dada is the Orisha of Dreadlocks and music. Dada was the older brother of Chango and would have been emperor but chose to do music and art. He received a crown of money represented by dreadlocks covered in cowry shells called Bayani. Children of Dada are born with thick curly hair that’s never cut and twisted into dreads. The hair represents a creative mind so full of game that it is actually sprouting from the skull in the form of Dreadlocks. In Jamaica they even call Bob Marley the original Don Dada an African concept and word that was retained through slavery and colonialism.

 

Sol’Sain’t Duke Elegant The Origin of Cool

Mixed Media

 

Sol’Sain’t Duke Elegant Synchronizes Duke Ellington with Obatala. Obatala is the original king of cool. The whole concept of the slang use of the word “cool” is rooted in Yoruba and Obatala is the epitome of cool, cool clothes, cool music, cool attitude and cool design. The cool detached elegance of a Dan mask anchors this montage in the pan African concept of Cool. Duke Ellington’s whole generation was taught African art was primitive never elegant. Sol’Sain’t Duke Elegant is medicine for that misconception.

 

Sol’Sain’t Jackin ‘N’ Robin Sons

Mixed Media

 

Ogun a Yoruba angel has story after story of how he did something unethical and antisocial only to recognize the hardship he caused and work tirelessly and ethically to redeem himself. I have synchronized this Angel with Jackie Robinson a man who had not done anything wrong but was treated as if he had. SOL’SAIN’T Jackin and Robin Sons celebrate the cultural resilience and the commitment to dignity and justice even when you are being treated unjustly. African American men in Brooklyn have been suffering for 30 years now with police that regularly harass and abuse the innocent. By invoking Jackie Robinson’s story of how he was treated like a thief and harassed even though stealing bases is in the rules, I hope to inspire the innocent youth of my community to find the calm dignity of Robinson in the face of very undignified accusations from the NYPD.

 

Sol’Sain’t Jus A Fiend Baker

Mixed Media

 

The Yoruba Angel Oshun has many stories of how she used her sexual magnetism to demand respect and undermine patriarchal authority and misogynist abuse while earning riches. Josephine Baker was the richest African American woman of her era. Her stardom undermined the deeply puritanical beliefs of European Supremacists. She confronted them with her humanity and they were so deeply attracted to her that they gave her freedoms and resources no other African American women had access to at that time. I invoke Oshun and Josephine Baker to inspire young ladies to not feel like Whores because they like to dress or dance provocatively and to always recognize that the true power they have is their mind and what they chose to do with the sexual power they have. I also want the community to recognize that sexuality is sacred and just because some one may dress or dance in an openly sexual way that is not an invitation to disrespect or abuse them. Our Puritanical Supremacist roots lead us to blame the victim. We as a community have to recognize that no matter how attracted you are to what you see or how shocked you are by it, judgment and abuse is far more socially harmful than the outfits and dances of the sexually provocative.

 

Sol’Sain’t Marchin Lift The King

Mixed Media

 

Martin Luther King is the voice of Good God Almighty Chango. Chango in his time as emperor of The Oyo Empire fought against antisocial cultural policy in Africa. Twins were considered evil in Yoruba land. One twin, both twins and sometimes the mother would be killed out of fear and hatred. Chango used the power of the word to move people to love twins as an act of God rather than evil. The ability to use the power of the word to change society is what Sol’Sain’t Marchin Lift The King Celebrates. In this image the Face of the Oni of Ile Ife or the king of earth and heaven is used to represent the face of Authority.

CV

 

Sol"Sax

Born: 1969

Raised: Brooklyn, NY

 

Education:

1993-1995 Master of Fine Arts, Yale university, New Haven, CT

1987-1992 Bachelor of Fine Arts, Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, New York, NY

1989-1990 Hochschule der Kuenste, Guest Student, Berlin, Germany

1980-1987 Cooper Union Saturday Program, New York, NY; Arts Students' League, New York, NY,

 

Sol’Sax was born in Kings County Hospital in 1969. In the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s Sol’Sax grew up in Bushwick on Halsey Street except for four years to attend High school in Leonia New Jersey in the eighties. He still lives and works in Brooklyn N.Y.  He received a BFA with honors from The Cooper Union in 1992 and a MFA with honors from Yale School of Art in 1995, he also studied abroad in Berlin the year the Berlin wall fell.  Since 1990 Sol’Sax has produced objects, images and performances that fuse African-American cultural heritages like Hip Hop, House, Reggae, Soul, Jazz, Blues and spirituals with traditional African religions like Yoruba, Congo, Mende, Akan and Fon.

 

Over the last twenty years Sol’Sax has received some notable honors in sculpture. In 2005 he received a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Sculpture. In 2004 he received Guggenheim Fellowship in Sculpture. In 2001 he was awarded a public commission by MTA arts for transit and designed 16 permanent glass panel designs in The Halsey Street Subway station. In 1996 he was a resident at Socrates Sculpture Park. He was the first artist to be given a solo show at Rush Arts and has exhibited at The Brooklyn Museum, The Queens Museum, The Museum of the City of New York, The Studio Museum in Harlem, P.S. 1 MoMA, Sculpture Center and the Fowler Museum in Los Angeles among other venues.

 

 

SELECTED EXHIBITIONS

 

Solo

2018 “Sol’Sain’t Many Kin, All Sol’Skin Is A Free Kin” Material for The Arts Residency Show Long Island City

2014 “Medicine from Heaven” A Juneteenth Jubilee, Skylight Gallery Bed-Stuy

2009 “Yes we can, A free can, A merry can” Bedford Stuyvesant YMCA

2005 "SOL'SNYPD, Strange fruit from the Concrete Jungle", Momenta Art, Williamsburg, Kings County

2004 "Chain Link Theory" , Kenny Schacter Gallery, West Village, NYC

2003 "Rock On SOL'SHEAD", Silverstein Gallery, Chelsea, NYC

2002 "These Hand Me Down Black 'N' Blue Jeans", Project Room, P.S. 1 MoMA, Long Island City, Queens

2001 "Hood Flags", New York City Library, Grand Army Plaza, NYC

1997 "The Wild Herb of Bushwick Presents: My Tea Blessed Heads of Kings

County", Rush Arts Gallery, Chelsea, NYC

1995 "Recognize the Real", Silverstein Gallery, Soho, NYC

1994 "Entrenched in the University, Out to take the Bread and Bakery",

African American House, Yale University, New Haven, CT

1991 "Underground Houses", Cooper Union, Great Hall Gallery, East Village, NYC

 

Group

Group

 

2018 “White Anxieties”, White Box Gallery, NYC,  NY

2017 “Platform Art Fair: 55 contemporary artists” Bklyn Expo Center, Green Point Brooklyn

“Guerrillas in the midst: The art of undoing spells” Five Myles, Crown Heights, Brooklyn

2016 “recap: thirty years of momenta art” - Momenta Art, New York, NY

“I Found God In Myself”, Schomberg Library Harlem NYC

2015 “Flux Art Fair”, Harlem NYC

“60 Americans” Elga Wimmer, Chelsea NYC

“The Time is Now” Scope Art Fair NYC 1

“After Afropolitan” Weeksville Art Center, Brooklyn NYC

“Respond” Smack Mellon, Brooklyn NYC

“Bad Ass Art Man Danny Simmons” African American Museum of Philadelphia

2014 “For Colored Girls” Schomberg Library Harlem NYC

2013 “Masqueraders are the Ancestors of Protestors” A Juneteenth Jubilee exhibit Curated by SOL’SAX @IMC

lab + Gallery Chelsea NYC

"I Dreamed My People were Calling but I Couldn't Find my Way Home" Rush Arts Gallery, Chelsea NYC

Fountain Art Fair, NYC

2011 The Pavement and The Beach”, Paradise Row, London, England

“15x15 Rush Arts 15th year Anniversary” Rush Arts Gallery, Chelsea NYC

2010 "American Ship (A merry Kinship)", A Juneteenth Jubilee Curated by SOL'SAX, Junto, Bushwick Brooklyn

2007 "A Jamaica , Queens Thing"*: Rap and the Crack Era in South Jamaica, The Jamaica Center for Arts and

Learning Queens NY

"SOL'SAX and Dread Scott: Life, Liberty and Pursuit..."Karl Drerup Art Gallery,
Plymouth State University NH

2006 "The Pulse of New Brooklyn": A review of Contemporary art in New York MoCADA Brooklyn NY

2005 "Make It Now", Sculpture Center, Long Island City, Queens

2004 "Open House: Working in Brooklyn", Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY

"Armory show", Kenny Schachter Contemporary

2003 "Armory show", Kenny Schachter Contemporary

"Scope", Silverstein Gallery, Miami

"Confrontation or Commentary: the Role of Political Art in Society", Nathan Cummings Foundation,

Midtown, NYC

"This is Lagos: Yabis Night, Music and Fela", Skoto Gallery, Chelsea, NYC

2002 "I Love New York", Galeria Ferran Cano, Barcelona, Spain

"Bird's Eye View", Grand Army Plaza Gallery, Brooklyn, NY

"Tensionisms", Kenny Schacter's Rove, West Village, NYC

"Shine", An Internet Gallery for Amnesty International and Downtown Arts Festival,

http://www.shine02.org/

"The Black Arts Festival", The Puck Building, Soho, NYC

2001  "Bigger than Hip Hop", Rush Arts, Chelsea, NYC

2000 "Jackin 'n' Robin Sons", Downtown Arts Festival, Chelsea, NYC

"New York Now", The Museum of the City of New York, El Barrio, NYC

"The Black Arts Festival", The Puck Building, Soho, NYC

"Existence", Silverstein Gallery, Chelsea, NYC

"Ypay2K", Trans Hudson Gallery, West Village, NYC

1999 "The Ecstatic", Trans Hudson, West Village, NYC

"Paradise 8", Exit Art, Soho, NY

"Rhythm, pattern, Color: the Drum", Grand Army Plaza Gallery, Brooklyn, NY

"Pavement: Inside/Outside", Martinez Gallery, Brooklyn, NY

"Straight No Chaser", Puffin Room, Noho, NY

1998 "The 1998 Challenge Exhibition", Skylight Gallery, Brooklyn, NY

1996 "National Black Arts Festival" (Invitational), Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA

"Bead Body and Soul (Art and Light in the Yoruba Universe)", UCLA, Fowler Museum, Los Angeles,

CA (traveling exhibition arriving at Studio Museum in Harlem in June 2000)

"Social History Show V", Bronx River Art Center and Gallery, Bronx, NY

1995 "Two by Two, M.F.A. Thesis Show", Yale University Art School Gallery, New Haven, CT

1994 "Tenth Anniversary Outdoor Sculpture Show", Socrates Sculpture Garden, Long Island City, NY

1992 "Sankofa", Annext, West Village, NYC

 

SELECTED AWARDS, GRANTS

 

2017 Artist in residence Material For The Arts

2008 Halsey St Station on the J train Permanent Public Commission "Art's for          Transit"

2005 Guggenheim Fellowship in Sculpture

New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Sculpture

1996-1997 Artist in Residence Socrates Sculpture Park, Queens, NY

1995 Rockefeller Traveling Grant

Yale International Sculptor award

1994 Phillip Morris Fellow

1994-1996 College Arts Association Graduate Fellow

1992-1993 Yale Sculpture Scholarship

Artist in Residence Bronx Council of the Arts at Longwood Arts Project

1993 Ruth Gutman Memorial Honor for the Excellence in Sculpture:

Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

 

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