Felandus Thames bestows basketball hoops, hairbrushes, and plastic beads with rich conceptual narratives around race and gender. With grace and, at times, humor, the artist transforms everyday objects into vital political entities that open discussions.
One particularly striking series conveys the words of cultural icons through the bristles of brushes made for Afro-textured hair. One piece spells out the Richard Pryor quote “You go down there looking for Justice, that’s what you find: just us”; another relates the James Brown song “Say It Loud—I’m Black and I’m Proud.” In another body of work, Thames strings together hair beads and hangs them side by side like a curtain, resulting in commanding portraits. Through his fresh takes on the ready-made, Thames seeks, according to his artist statement, to create “vessels able to contain beauty and trauma at an equilibrium” and “work that functions in the way that Black music is endowed by, but not the sum of, Black joy, pain, and suffering.”