a3 blackface #59 (Primary Title)
Iona Rozeal Brown, American, born 1966 (Artist)
“What’s really interesting is being in another country and seeing how hip-hop is worn. It makes you wonder: who is putting this out here? Because there were a lot of the commercial gestures, a lot of the hats on the side, the swaggers, the crotch grabbing and the rubbing and the claiming to be from a particular field, if you will.” —iona rozeal brown
Brown—who styles her name in all lowercase letters—uses a3 as an abbreviation for “Afro-Asiatic allegory,” her series of prints and paintings based on the style of the Japanese ganguro (literally “blackface”) girls. These young women reject Japanese conventions of beauty—dark, straight hair and pale skin—by lightening and perming their hair and darkening their skin.
a3 blackface #59 borrows stylistically from Japanese woodblock prints of the Edo period (1615–1868). Known as ukiyo-e prints, these popular, middle-class images depicted the shifting fashions and chaotic lives of the Tokyo amusement district. Brown is also a disc jockey and has found that the transience of the contemporary entertainment industry resonates with the “floating world” of Edo Japan.
Identity Shifts, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA, April 26 – July 27, 2014
Edo Pop: The Graphic Impact of Japanese Woodblock Prints, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, MN, October 30 - January 8, 2012
iona rozeal brown: a3 ... black on both sides, Spelman College Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA, January 22 - May 14, 2004
 Accessioned November 18, 2004. See VMFA Curatorial file.
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