Gerald A. Brown is a Chicago Southside native, currently based in Philadelphia, PA. She received her BFA from Syracuse University, double emphasis in Sculpture and Ceramics. She has researched in Paris as well as furthered her studies at Penland and Haystack Mountain School of Craft. In Philly, Gerald is a current member of the art collective Vox Populi, curating shows and special programming. In addition, she is the Social Media Curator for NCECA, one of the Board of Directors at Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts and co-founder of the Clay Siblings’ Project, a non-profit initiative providing free ceramic workshops around the country.
Creator of complex immersive installations, I use ceramic objects, found objects, sound and wall signage to execute my goals. Fundamental to my practice has been creating the sculptural ceramic forms and using the materiality of clay to communicate complex ideas, challenging the viewer physically and conceptually.
I use this methodology to execute my work about Descendants of Strange Fruit, an exploration of the current generation of offspring of the Strange Fruit Billie Holiday and Nina Simone sang about. I define this concept of Strange Fruit as a fruit-bearing plant, growing in a country deeply infected by Anti-Blackness. My work analyzes these biological American oddities and their placement in this country’s foundation. Implementing several researching methods, I map out the lifespan of the fruit and make diagrams that identify the fruits’ characteristics to reinterpret their symbolism using my own personal experiences. Primarily examining American constructs of Black Exceptionalism, Womanhood, and respectability, I identify several varietals of the Fruit and theorize their unique behaviors, such as Bloodbending and Shapeshifting.
I, then, commemorate the life of the descendants through the creation of sculptures and installations. Building abstract nonrepresentational fruit-like forms, I formulate a visual language of the Strange Fruits through a variation of postures and gestures. The forms are placed in mixed-media constructed installations to contextualize the fruit’s surroundings, exposing connections between the characteristics of the Fruit and the effects of the Strange Fruit disease. Navigating themes of joy, greed, nobility, trauma, and, ultimately, freedom, together, these forms and installations evoke aggressively interrogating questions of who are each of us in this Strange Fruit ecosystem and what does [our] harvest look like.