Up, Up, Up You Mighty Race, 2016
Synthetic hair braids
May 3, 2016 – May 31, 2016
The artist will use synthetic hair, often used for braiding in the African braid shops in Harlem to wrap a standard street lighting or pedestrian pole. The installation is titled “Up, Up, Up You Mighty Race” which is derived from the Marcus Garvey quote “ Up, you mighty race, accomplish what you will.”
A total of 1,916 braids will be incorporated into the installation marking the date Garvey settled in Harlem. The colors used will be taken from Jamaican and African flags and textile designs. The synthetic material will be braided and twisted in various ways used to create a colorful and textural design that will wrap around the circumference of the pole and rise up to the top of the pole. On the top row of braids there will be white feathers to symbolize the feathered helmet Marcus Garvey wore and three long red, black and green braids that will hang freely as a symbol of the UNIA flag. The installation is a collective representation of the Harlem, 125th street landscape; The Afrocentric beauty found in Harlem and Marcus Garvey’s Black nationalist and Pan African ideologies of unity and self-determination as demonstrated by the African women entrepreneurs in Harlem who use their hair braiding skills to build economic independence. The artist’s intent is for the public who see the installation from a distance to be attracted to the colors and boldness and when viewed close up to be surprised and amused. The material used in the installation references something that is familiar to Harlem, yet relatable to many. Everyone recognizes braids, may have had their hair braided or when walking down 125th street encountered an African woman who asked “Braid Miss?” The hope is this familiarity seen in the work will be an entry point to spark dialogue about the social, historical and cultural landscape of our Harlem neighborhood and community.
Mira Gandy is a visual artist working with themes related to female identity, beauty, race and their intersection in media and culture. Gandy’s introduction to the New York art scene came when life style expert and restaurateur B. Smith recognized her talent and sponsored her first exhibit. A subsequent introduction to Russell Simmons and his brother, artist Danny Simmons led to her inclusion in a series of group shows in Soho and Brooklyn, created by Rush Fine Arts. Gandy’s work has been shown in numerous exhibitions including: Rio III Gallery, New York, Dwyer Culture Center, New York, La Maison d’art Gallery, New York; Knox Gallery, New York; Advocate & Gochis Galleries, Los Angeles; The Fisher Gallery, Los Angeles; BLK/MRKT Gallery, Culver City, CA; William Grant Still Arts Center, Los Angeles. Gandy’s multimedia project withActor/Playwright Ahrum Claiborne, Art Takes Seoul an exhibition and one-woman play was featured in the Wall Street Journal.
In addition, Gandy has penned over 20 published articles on leading contemporary artists of color for The New York Beacon newspaper. Gandy studied at the American University in Parisand holds a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree from the University of Southern California Roski School of Art and Design. She is the recipient of the 2012 National Action Network Woman of Excellence Award for her advancement of women and children in the community, the USC Edward Ewing Painting Award (2011), USC Black Alumni Association Outstanding Scholar of the Year award (2011) and has a USC Black Alumni scholarship named in her honor.