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Friday
Sep192008

What in the HOT! CRISPY! HECK? Daniel Edwards is a Loon- Completes Michelle Obama Bust

The man who brought us bronzed statutes of Britney Spears giving birth, Suri Cruise's first bowel movement, Paris Hilton's Autopsy, that hideous bust of Hillary Clinton topless and a sarcophagus and burial mask of Oprah Winfrey is at it again. This time his target is Michelle Obama.This is what a WAOD reader said via email:

No words. I don't even know if it's good or not. I just don't know why he can't make a bust that look like Michelle now. He HAD to put some hoop earrings on the woman...ugh.WAOD Reader

Sandra Rose's take on the sculpture:
The Afro pick sitting fashionably askew in the Nefertiti style body wave perm adds a nice touch.SandraRose.com

For their part, the Edward's promoters offer this interpretation of the inexplicable:

“Michelle Obama’s Makeover for America” presents an accessorized mannequin bust of Obama that foregoes the conventional pearl necklace, and provides for her a ‘signature look’ to take to Washington. “The goal is to create a look for Michelle Obama that eliminates excessive comparisons to Jackie Kennedy,” said Edwards, who studied under the tutelage of legendary fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez, “like supermodel Tyra Banks’s photos in Harper’s Bazaar, or the puzzling comment from CBS’s Byron Pitts that recommended ‘less Jackee, more Jackie O.’”


A pearl-studded Afro pick, shaped like an eagle, demonstrates the makeover’s fashion mix of Black African and White House heritage to reinvigorate the traditional First Lady pearls. A tight, spiral-textured mane complements Michelle Obama’s likeness, with the pearl Afro pick placed modishly askew in a Nefertiti-esque hairstyle. Included are big hoop earrings shaped like O’s that seem to suggest, according to a gallery spokesman, “Look out Oprah, a new ‘Lady O’s’ in charge.”


Adorning the breasts of Michelle Obama’s bust are temporary tattoos, of which an American flag is depicted, to compensate for Barack’s pin-free lapels. Additional breast tattoo designs for Mrs. Obama, by Chicago tattoo artist Alex Higgins, will also be exhibited.



“Michelle Obama inspires a fashion template change that many First Ladies of the 21st Century may follow, as we witness minorities in this country becoming the majority,” added the spokesman. SOURCE





I am sorry. This looks in no way like Michelle Obama. Look at what he did to Oprah.



He constructed a Sarcophagus for Oprah Winfrey/span>
With her endorsement of presidential candidate Barack Obama, Oprah is making known her views on the need for healthcare reform. But controversial sculptor Daniel Edwards is urging talk show host Oprah Winfrey to do more by taking the time on her show to reach out to the recently retired baby boomers for whom healthcare reform will come too late. Edwards is offering his latest creation to Oprah, to assist the television icon in breaking the ice with baby boomers to encourage them to prepare for their own funerals. ... A gilded coffin lid bearing Oprah’s full-figured likeness with slimming vertical stripes, The Oprah Sarcophagus is designed for a look of cultural neutrality with respect to Oprah’s audience and the style of her magazine.

“The Oprah Sarcophagus is the ideal visual aid for educating boomers about living wills, casket choices, and memorial service arrangements,” says gallery co-director John Leo. “We would like to hear Oprah tell her viewers that a great coffin should be something of which to aspire, and that no one should have to settle for a pine box.” Source

Now I could psychoanalyze this for days, but I feel dumber for even trying. Brain cells are dying as we speak. Is it November 4th yet? Huh? I saw some Halloween candy at Walgreens that means the end is near. Come on November 5th! Come on!

Reader Comments (36)

I'm sorry but these busts are simple and brilliant. Its nice to see an artist canonize contemporary imagery in a classicist format and aesthetic. Both the Oprah and Michelle Obama pieces are blatantly Africoid in their features. Bravo! The Michelle Obama bust, unlike that of Nerfertiti, is devoutly Nubian. Its the Hapshetsut bust we've wished to have as a counterbalance for Nefertiti (or Elizabeth Taylor's Cleopatra). With Nefertiti, black folks still have to search for the African in the Egyptian in spite of what Cheikh Anta Diop may have written. The bust also radiates a powerful wisdom that is regal. Compared against the Hillary bust, one gets the feeling of a sudden transportation from the Roman republic to a palace in Timbuktu or Benin. Oprah's image somehow conjures an image of Leakey's Lucy, the point at which the ancestry of Hillary and Michelle originate.

Collectively, these images constitute a brief history of the human family and the grandeur of their civilizations. Michelle's image simultaneously conjures Egypt and West Africa, and in doing so it reflects the hip cultural awareness of both the 70s and the Harlem Renaissance. Experiencing this piece is like trying to read "Ego Trippin'" and "A Negro Speaks of Rivers" at the same time. Yes, this bust is that hip.

Forget the bare breasts. In the case of these works (Hillary and Michelle) they are pectorals - muscular appendages similar to that seen on Michaelangelo's David or the sculpted likeness of some powerful Roman senator.

I'm sorry but I must give Daniel Edwards his props on this one. This is in the tradition of artisan who crafted the powerful image of Thutmose as well as Jacob Lawrence's artistic conglomeration of scripture, African history, and contemporary African American life in the urban north. Would you call Edwards a "loon" if he were a black woman who had majored in art while at Spelman?

September 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAl From Bay Shore

It appears that some rules were violated. We cannot see the picture. It is probably just as well.

September 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPamela

I'd like to make a correction. I meant to say Aaron Douglas instead of Jacob Lawrence. I always get them confused.

September 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAl From Bay Shore

Pamela,

I can see the pictures. Maybe it is on your end. If you click the link after the description of the bust, you should be able to see it on the Gallary owner's site.

UM Al, I am gong to take your word for it. It isn't abou the bare breasts, but this does not even REMOTELY look like Michelle Obama. But then again sculptures are not my thing. I a assuming you are an expert on fine art.

I mean if it was remotely related to history. I mean I can see some Egyptian influence, but what's with the finger waves? And he did Oprah all kinds of wrong because he wanted her to promote people not to bury themselves.

September 19, 2008 | Unregistered Commentergem2001

Fine Art?

Clearly I won't understand. The last piece of art that I saw AND understood was a bear carved out of wood in front of a flea market in south Mississippi. The detail was amazing.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I'm just not seeing the beauty. But, hey, like I said...that's just me.

September 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterYme

I actually think the woman that was sculpted is regal and beautiful, but it does not look like Michelle Obama. I also question his interpretation of NOT being Jackie O.

September 19, 2008 | Unregistered Commentergem2001

I think it looks like her from the side. I don't have a problem w/ it really, why are blacks running away from their blackness or Africaness. We have to deny what we are naturally to fit into America. We can't be as we are in public arenas where everyone is around. And that Oprah statue looks like Oprah, have you seen the show this season? She gained the weight back, how did she gain weight being on that raw food diet she claimed she was on?

September 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNaima

It doesn't look too bad. My problem is why does the artist want avoid comparisons to Jackie O. Could it be that they are both classy people?

September 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLa Belle Femme

I can see some semblance to Michelle. However, I think the fact that he tried to make her look more Afro-Centric (NOT THAT THERE'S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT. I REPEAT, NOT THAT THERE IS ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT) says a lot. To me it suggests that people (said sculptor in particular) are uncomfortable with the image of an "uppity," middle class BW- they'd much rather see her as a stereotype (i.e. big hoop earrings as opposed to an understated pearl necklace, afro-pick intact) than the person she really is. I guess that's where the Jackee vs. Jackie O. thing comes into play.

This is just all my opinion as art can be interpreted in many different ways.

September 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterZabeth

This is an outdated image of what black women are "supposed" to be. I don't like that statue of Michelle Obama because that is not who I am. The image is some outdated african queen crap and I don't want it. I want something new. Black women are WAY more than some outdated nefertiti type crap. People need to be careful of this image because folks will think that is what we are supposed to be. Black women have come so far, should we update our image as well? Why the hell are we letting other people tell us what they think we should be? I hate the sculputre. I HATE it.

September 19, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermekare

@ mekare:

you're right, we should be careful about this.

Like Zabeth said, while there's nothing wrong with afrocentricity, but we should avoid being placed in a box. Black women are more than just hoop earrings.

September 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLa Belle Femme

I think it's a beautiful sculpture. I'm straining to see the resemblance to Michelle but it's beautiful to me. I didn't know large hoop earrings were stereotypical. I only wear hoop earrings. (I wear my hair natural in a fro or twists and large hoop earrings just add something to my look). I may be biased because I love an Afrocentric Aesthetic. The pick reminded me of the Adinkra wooden comb which symbolizes beauty and cleanliness. Also, I didn't see her has as fingerwaves it reminded me of how Charles Bibbs sometimes paints the hair of the women in his work.

It looks very regal. I agree with Al.

September 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJ.Adia

I agree with you mekare. This so-called Afrocentric bust Of Michelle Obama is not flattering at all. Egypt and Queen Nefertiti are from an era that is longer than one millennium ago. Hmmm…ancient, dusty, by gone, irrelevant to modern times, and ultimately forgotten. Ok. I get it now. :\

September 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJS

I actually like the bust. Whether it looks like her or not.

September 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJJ

Doesnt look like her but it is nice.

September 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterClnmike

I had to use my liberal arts background on this one.

If this bust was on display without being attached to Michelle Obama, I would have to give the artist props for creating an interesting piece and his use of symbolism in different ways. He gets a snap up from me for the Afrocentric features. It is an ancient look. One that has been altered in our genetics. But in spirit, I have that woman on the inside of me.

As far as resembling Michelle, I do not see it. But in the spirit of intent~it is as far away from Jackie. While it does not reflect contemporary black women, I like the bust. If I saw this at a museum, my own interpretation of the pick and pearls would be entirely different. Along with the tats on the breasts. But I am one of those artsy people who shun guided tours and use my intelligence to interpret art.

As far as the Oprah piece is concerned. I went to see the King Tut exhibit when it toured the US. One of the most interesting things about the drawings and statues of Nefertti was her stomach and hips. She looked a lot like his interpretation of Oprah.

Beauty is in the mindseye of the beholder. So I'll give him props for creating the piece. But, I ain't seeing Michelle in that face.

September 20, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermsladydeborah

I didn't think that the bust looked like Michelle but it was beautiful nonetheless.

I have to tell you that I have dark brown skin and a big kinky, nappy, curly afro. I wear gold and silver hoops...and pearls and preppy cashmere sweater sets from J Crew. If I could find a pearl encrusted hair accessory like the pick featured in the bust, I would rock it in a second. I consider myself a Boho Prep. I don't think the only image of middle class black women should limited to doobie wearers in St. John.

I admit I have found the comparisons of Jackie O and Michelle O annoying. Why limit Michelle like that?

Even more puzzling, the black bourgeois' taking offense to anyone calling attention to Michelle's Afrocentric features. Isn't that one of attributes? She looks like us. She looks like a member of the African diaspora. Wherever black people are in large concentrations, you'll find a Michelle Obama look-alike. She might have a shaved head, braids, she might even have waves. She's still beautiful.

September 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMonica

I find the bust of Michelle Obama to be stunningly beautiful.

September 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKCW

It is art, they are the artist interpratation.

Are these all that he's doin', or will there be more to come?

Inquiring minds need to know!

September 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJim Johnson

I think the comparison to Jackie O came from when she changed her hairstyle supposedly to give her a softer look. One of the hairdos I suppose was similar to Jackie O. That was the only comparison that I could think of that I had hear a while ago.

The bust does not look bad but I see nothing that looks like Michelle at all. I'm not much into sculptures.

September 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPamela

I think they're both beautiful. Wouldn't it be funny 3000 years in the future to have anthropologists discover these works and assume that they were goddesses :P

September 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNehesi

I like Michelle's bust. The profile in the top pic doesn't look too different from the "Michelle Obama Watch" pic posted on this page. I'm assuming the artist hasn't actually met Michelle, Oprah, Britney etc. and is basing his interpretation of them on pics.

September 21, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterrose32

I think some of the critics of the artworks are out of control. As I suggested earlier, if the artist were a black woman with some "cred" (ie. hbcu graduate), her work would be lauded as "a daring fusion of pop culture and black African classicism."

All this speaks to a larger issue - black folk's "identify racism reflex." I think the negative reaction to these artworks is a reaction to a perect storm of elements that disturb black folks - a white artist doing black depictions, black depictions with blatantly black physical features, a latent and subconscious disdain for black physical features, the tendency of black folks seek out opportunities to engage in "popular activism", and our conditioned desires to "be offended" for no apparent reason.

Our popular culture as well as its "activist tendencies" aren't progressive nor are they opened minded. In the same way that the outdated integrationist slant of the civil rights industry has managed to linger around for decades as the predominate political philosophy, gangster rap and the jheri curl inspired brand of R&B has also managed to stick around like some aged and foppish uncle who perennially hits on the 20-something female family members at holiday gatherings. This is our family and this is our culture [sigh]. There is a reason why we know more of Eazy-E and Mary J. Blige than Bad Brains and Basquiat. Our culture, in spite of our arrogant bragging to the contrary, is not dynamic and as a result, when we see things outside the expectations of our parochial and dull conventional pop cultural sensibilities, we are either offended or we question its black authenticity (if the source comes from another black person, ie. Cosby).

We are condemned to a life of repetition and monotony. Even at our "hippest" we continue to replicate decade's old ideas. Ever notice how many of our slam poets continue to sound like "The Last Poets" or some Gil Scot Heron "B-Side"? As we speak, commercial influences are currently corrupting the wonderful music that is so-called "neo-Soul". No need to worry because our untrained ears won't notice the difference. Before long, you will be getting a jheri curl to go with that cheap retro dashiki-like garment from Moshood. All we can do is hope that deep house music does not go the way of jazz , and I mean real jazz not that "souled-up" Kenny G pop instrumentalism issued by the likes of Najee or George Howard.

September 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAl From Bay Shore

Okay Al, I must plead guilty as charged. If a sistah had been the artist or Charles Bibbs or that brother that paints all those pictures they put up in Black beauty shops, I would likely have ignored this BUUUUT. Unlike most artists that let you try to figure out what the heck they are trying to do, this guy shoves his agenda out there so you never get the chance to view it wihout his viewpoint hanging over it.

Sorry, but anytime a non black person tries to display their interpretation of what it means to be "black" that is suspect to me. In the same way that Africans probably cringe when Black folks try to get "afro-centric."

Let me ask you this Al... is your barber Black? If so, I suspect if you walked into his shop and sat in his barber's ans he brought out his new intern or apprentice who was non Black you would feel a little bit nervous sitting in that chair. He might be the most competent barber on earth, but you still gone get nervous when he turns of the clippers.

September 22, 2008 | Unregistered Commentergem2001

To me it suggests that people (said sculptor in particular) are uncomfortable with the image of an “uppity,” middle class BW- they’d much rather see her as a stereotype"

This is exactly what I thought. This guy totally put his insecurties and racism on display. I just called the art gallery. There number is 917-650-3760.

The guy named Michael tried to cut me off and tell me to read open letter that the wrote the British museum. It's an attempt to redirect you from the issues. This happened with hip-hop. Everyone tried to give some PhD thesis to justify why trash is trash. Black women have to win this time and not listen to the "oh its not so bad" because we see what happened in the past. WHAT can be done to head off this damage?

I'm not listening to some sh*t about the British museum. This guy is totally out of line and needs to be corrected.

I called but it's not enough. Gina, do you have any other suggestions?

September 22, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermekare

nevermind, I over reacted.

take care

September 22, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermekare

You know what, I did the right thing the first time. CALL these people.

September 22, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermekare

"Let me ask you this Al… is your barber Black? If so, I suspect if you walked into his shop and sat in his barber’s ans he brought out his new intern or apprentice who was non Black you would feel a little bit nervous sitting in that chair. He might be the most competent barber on earth, but you still gone get nervous when he turns of the clippers."

Wrong question Gem.....

So one day, after working a temp gig in Bethesda or Rockville, I was walking down this street in search of place to get a haircut. I don't know what made me decide to do this because I was in a lily-white area. Anyway, I happened upon this "Supercuts". Nothing but white women worked in here. Actually, there was one Asian woman. I walked in and got this "please don't sit in my chair " stare from everyone in the establishment. One of the women walked over and asked "can I help you?" I told her I wanted a haircut. Enter the Asian woman. She must have just come in from her lunch break and I was hoisted upon her unsuspecting behind. She had this "Damn, I hate being the new person" look on her face, or maybe it was that "Damn those white bitches, again!" look. Anyway, I sat in the chair and told her to shave my head. Everyone was looking. The Asian woman was nervous and pensive. To make a long story short, she shaved my head, I paid seven bucks, and mislead this Asian woman into believing that shaving a black person's head was comparable to cutting a fade. I often wonder how many black person's heads she messed up as a result performing the easiest hairstyle known to man.

September 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAl From Bay Shore

Ok, I have attempted to submit twice and my internet in this hotel keeps going out. Here I go again.

I can't be mad at this image. I know many middle-class women who wear their hair wrapped and wear west-African dresses. One is the Executive Director of a health care clinic. Also, when I was at the AKA boule this summer, many of my sorors wore their hair wrapped and African dresses to business meetings and our formal affairs. So to say that an Afro-centric aesthetic is "stereotypical" is a limiting statement. We are multi-faceted women who can get business done no matter what we wear.

I am actually not surprised by some of the critiques. I have received more negative comments regarding my natural hair from black folks then non-black folks. If he had made this bust a characticture of her features (bigger than real lips/nose) maybe I would be upset. I don't know what his agenda is and will research it. But for now, I love the bust. I wish it were me being depicted.

September 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJ.Adia

Oh by the way, if you wanna see some white boys cut hair, go to Astor Place Hair Cutters on Broadway and Astor Place in NYC, down the street from the Cube in front of the Starbucks. This old guy named JB cut the sickest fade in 20 minutes. When I couldn't get him, usually because of the line of brothers, I went to this old Puerto Rican man, Hector. Hector was no joke either. He would cut my head in roughly 15 minutes. The best part about Astor Place was the dj booth in the corner. Constant and endless house music.

Speaking of house music, here you go...

http://www.deephousemix.com/

Now go forth and spread the love.

September 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAl From Bay Shore

One last thing...I also see the depiction of Michelle as a queen of an African nation a few centuries ago. It's exciting to think that she will be a queen of a different sort as first lady of the United States. I hope that was the agenda of the artist.

September 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJ.Adia

@ J.Adia
"I hope that was the agenda of the artist."

I hope so too, but somehow I doubt it.

I think it's tacky that people give you trouble over going natural. I think it's all tied into feelings of insecurity. Now that I think about it. I think it's tacky to even care how another woman wears her hair.

If it's natural...move on... it's hers

If it's permed...you still get no points...it's hers

If it has weaved attached...she bought it...leave her alone it's hears

If it's under a wig...her head is hot...and you better move on before she smacks you

I've seen people "poo poo" women with natural hair. I've seen people who have "gone natural" and now believe they have some kind higher calling to harass women who decide to perm their hair.

What is this obsession with hair?

I'm just still glad to have some.

BTW, a friend of mine is a cancer survivor. She does wild and crazy things with her hair every chance she gets and has no problem being totally bald if she has too. She said she simply realized her value wasn't tied to her hair. Now, sometimes when her grows in, she'll still shave it off. If she's looking for a certain look.

The funny part for her is that other people still care. (Although it's not funny to me) Women who don't know her personal story, talk about her when she's bald, natural, permed, wigged out, etc.

We've got some serious esteem problems.

September 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterYme

@Yme

I love my hair. Being natural really was freeing for me. I actually learned how to swim 2 years ago. I understand that people who have made comments about my hair have their own issues and hang ups. The majority of the women in my extended family are natural so no strangers comments are going to break me. There are so many other things we need to be concerned instead of worrying about how someone wears there hair.

Black is beautiful in every shade, shape, length, and texture.

September 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJ.Adia

As a tatted wearer of hoop earrings (my grandmother called them whore hoops) I do think they are something that "we" wear (and well I must say). However this,

"A pearl-studded Afro pick, shaped like an eagle, demonstrates the makeover’s fashion mix of Black African and White House heritage to reinvigorate the traditional First Lady pearls"

gives me pause. An Afro pick = Black African.

Pearl hoops would be awesome! It is a nice piece of art. I do wonder how they would react if she had a Jeremy Shockey eagle & ol' glory? Ghetto or real American?

Al~ you are killing me with the visual imagery.

September 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLaJane Galt

LaJane, this thread is nearly dead so I can say this.

You wear tats? That's quite sexy.

September 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAl From Bay Shore

You know what, the moment that "art" affects me in a negative way is the moment that we have a problem. I don't like the bust. At all. I'm tired of settling. You make a sculpture of a black woman, you SHOULD be able to hear why it's incorrect. Otherwise, you have your own agenda which hurts me.

Does anyone know who sponsored the gallery?

September 24, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermekare

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