On the Flip Side [Side A]:
Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education and
Dancing in the Streets are proud to present a survey of Glendalys Medina’s recent work as the second part of this year’s South Bronx Culture Trail “The Birth of Hip Hop” exhibition, “ON THE FLIP SIDE [Side A],” curated by Christine Licata, Casita Maria’s Director of Performing and Visual Arts.
The first installment of this exhibition in October 2013, “ON THE FLIP SIDE [Side B]” revisited the earliest years of Hip Hop as a complex subculture, its history and the social and political context from which it was born. In “[Side A],” Medina explores its broad potential and contemporary influence upon the traditional canon of arts and culture in her body of work The Shank. Through this ongoing series of performances, public interventions and mixed-media art work, she aims to master MCing, Breaking, Graffiti and DJing by reproducing the work of prominent figures in Hip Hop culture and then incorporating these skills into her own interpretations and vision.
For Medina, Hip Hop provides a multidisciplinary, coherent and conscious aesthetic framework from which to develop her practice as a conceptual artist. The rigorous discipline, technical skills and pedagogy of its elements offer her a basis to explore the processes of self-transformation and the psychology behind one’s identity as both an individual and a part of overall society.
Once she has learned the basics of each element, Medina produces original work in order to explore her own voice as an MC, body as a B-girl, name as a Graffiti writer and rhythm as a DJ. She chose the word “shank” because of its slang meaning as a handmade knife commonly made in prisons. Medina conceived The Shank as its redefinition into a tool for creativity and growth rather than a violent weapon. The Shank offers an opportunity to escape confinement, discover one’s true self and recreate one’s identity through dance, rhyming, music and art.
After teaching herself Graffiti letter forms and various styles from well known
writers, Medina integrated the concept of a writer’s name or “tag” into a unique language of geometric shapes and forms, entitled BlackGold which she then
stencil printed and wheat pastes throughout the city. As part of the work, she video blogs and documents each tagging event, often with interviews that capture her experiences from performative and experiential viewpoint.
In her performance piece for the element of MCing, One Mic by Nas, Medina embodied artist MC Nas in both his dress and powerful attitude, learning and repeating his song every day over the course of 7 months. From this experience, she wrote the song Caterpillar, that is about transformation and expresses vulnerability as her own source of strength. The process of self-discovery, as well as the concrete and abstract tools she used to get there, are all an integral part of The Shank.
On December 14, 2013 from 1–4 PM, Medina will perform Dear Me, in which
Medina sings an original piece inspired by Hip Hop artist Drake’s song Find Your Love. Dear Me explores the various incarnations of “love” from crushes, lust, true love and, ultimately, self love. The piece is performed in an enclosed, intimate
setting to one visitor at a time. The interactive, positive exchange of Dear Me is also a fundamental part of sharing “The Gift” of The Shank with others.
Together, “[Side B]” and “[Side A]” of “ON THE FLIP SIDE” investigate the fifth and perhaps most important element of Hip Hop culture, Knowledge. Emphasizing society and defined as an understanding of the past, present, oneself and community, Knowledge is the foundation upon which Hip Hop music, rhyming, dance and art are built. It is the basis, as evident in Medina’s work, for individual agency, the potential for positive sociopolitical change and innovative, creative expression.
ABOUT THE ARTIST / GLENDALYS MEDINA: Born in Ponce, Puerto Rico and raised in the Bronx, Glendalys Medina is a New York based artist who was awarded the Rome Prize Fellowship in Visual Arts for 2012-2013 from the American Academy in Rome and a NYFA Fellowship in Interdisciplinary Art in 2012. Medina has exhibited work internationally at such notable spaces as Artists Space, Jack Shainman, Unosunove Gallery in Rome and the Bronx Museum of the Arts. She was a selected participant of NYFA’s Boot-Camp Program in 2011 and awarded the Bronx Museum’s Artist in the Marketplace (AIM) residency in 2010. Medina was one of two participants in the MARMA Project Residency Program in Berlin and will be a resident at Yaddo in 2014. Her work can be found in the world’s largest collection of contemporary art, APT Global. www.glendalysmedina.com