*Brooklyn, NY – The Billie Holiday Theatre, one of the nation’s preeminent arts and culture organizations, will commemorate Black History Month with the launch of “Sky’s The Limit: Music is My Resistance,” a unique visual art exhibition experience exploring the concept of Black resistance through music. Launching on February 15, the exhibition will be anchored by renowned visual artist Sherwin Banfield’s larger-than-life sculpture of hip hop icon Christopher “The Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace (AKA Biggie).
Originally unveiled in DUMBO in 2022 to much fanfare, the piece – named “Sky’s the Limit in the County of Kings” – will make its way to Biggie’s own Bed Stuy neighborhood where the nine-foot statue will take centerstage in The Billie’s lobby and gallery hall. Additionally, a selection of Banfield’s smaller sculpted pieces will be on display.
The exhibition will also feature works from other artists and all works will be available for sale including the “Sky’s the Limit in the County of Kings” sculpture.
In celebration of the “Sky’s The Limit: Music is My Resistance opening, The Billie will host a kick-off reception on February 15th with music and light refreshments, remarks from the institution’s Executive Director Shadawn Smith, and a Q&A with Sherwin Banfield.
Later on February 28, The Billie will present an artist talk on music as resistance featuring Banfield, hip hop historian Leroy McCarty, and legendary DJ, VJ, and video producer Ralph McDaniels.
Scheduled to run through May 30, Sky’s The Limit: Music is My Resistance takes a look at how music has played an integral role in the journey, survival, and advancement of African Diasporic people. Through the lens of the art forms of sculpture, painting, and photography, it will examine the multi-layered concept of music as a voice for the voiceless, a change agent, and a vehicle for storytelling. Serving as the focal point of the exhibition will be Banfield’s massive stainless steel and bronze installation created in tribute to the Notorious B.I.G who is considered one of the greatest hip-hop artists of all time and whose powerful street narratives shifted the culture. Consisting of a crowned bust of Biggie’s head sitting on top of a steel frame and supported by panels that display the rapper’s many achievements, the mixed-media monument offers a different representation of Black artists in the space of public art and seeks to inspire and “spread love the Brooklyn Way.”
The structure also includes an exclusive mix curated by DJ Mister Cee playing on its internal solar-power speakers.
Additionally, smaller Biggie-centric sculpted pieces created by Banfield will also be on display featuring: limited edition Biggie portrait busts; maquettes of “Sky’s the Limit in the County of Kings”; the “Lion Protectors Of St. James Place”; “BIG Hand, The Throne” sculpture as well as framed prints and postcards. Additionally, the exhibition will include photography by Kamel B. Michael Young, Marcia Wilson, Hollis King, Kay Hickman and Ron West and paintings by Sam Goodsell, Derrick Cross, Nelsena Burt Spano, Izac Sissoko, Mona Morton, Larry Weekes.
“Music and the arts have always been a cornerstone of Black expression through which we get to authentically tell our stories. For this exhibition, we wanted to highlight how vital music has been to the Black experience as it relates to resistance and we wanted to do it in a way that was unique to Brooklyn,” said Shadawn Smith, Executive Director of The Billie. “With his Biggie sculpture as the centerpiece, Sherwin Banfield is the perfect collaborator to help us bring that vision to life. In addition to celebrating the artistic legacy of the ‘King of New York’, the piece has truly become a symbol of Black artistic brilliance and innovation. As we commemorate Black History Month this year, we are so proud to bring Biggie home to Bed Stuy as well as to present the works of a variety of local artists as part of the show. With Sky’s the Limit… also serving as the launch of our 2024 season, The Billie will continue to be the home for creating and nurturing Black narratives in the 21st century and beyond!”
“The Notorious B.I.G. is the truest representation of Brooklyn. His poetry is peppered with mentions of Brooklyn throughout his short but impactful career. By immortalizing The Notorious B.I.G into a respected monument, we introduce a unique cultural and educational opportunity to his community and his millions of fans around the world to experience this monument in B.I.G.’s Bed Stuy neighborhood, while showcasing a diverse representation of creativity here at The Billie Holiday Theatre,” said Banfield. “Biggie’s larger-than-life talent and persona have been crowned Hip Hop royalty. The Culture recognizes his authenticity, his genius and his heart! His authenticity mirrors the roots of Hip Hop, the voice of the voiceless, of disenfranchised black and brown youth who put their personal stories of hardship and fun on record. There is a relatable human experience in that duality. His genius is recognized in his art, his delivery, cadence, rhyme pattern and style is the highest level of storytelling in the spoken word tradition. He used his music and tales of street narratives as resistance to the disenfranchisement of his surroundings. The Culture recognizes his contributions to our community and the world. We see the maturity and successes of his contemporaries and we recognize he would have been as or more impactful if he was still here. So we celebrate the genius he was able to offer as his legacy.”
Sky’s The Limit: Music is My Resistance opens February 15th and runs through May 30.
February 15 – Opening and Reception/Tickets: $20.
February 28- “Music is My Resistance” Artist Talk/Tickets: $35
Except for ticketed events, the exhibition will be free and open to the public. All art on display will be available for sale. For more information and tickets, visit TheBillieholiday.org
For exclusive photos, updates, and more, get social! Follow us on all social media platforms – IG: @TheBillieHolidayTheatre; Facebook: Billie Holiday Theatre; Twitter: @BholidayTheatre; TikTok: @BholidayTheatre
Lead support for the 2023-2024 season is provided by the Altman Foundation, Ford Foundation, Howard Gilman Foundation, The Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, Mosaic Network and The Seller-Lehrer Family Foundation.
Our ability to tell stories that matter in the epicenter of the largest community of people of African descent in the nation is made possible with support from our partners: Con Edison, Mertz Gilmore Foundation, Harkness Foundation for Dance, The Hyde and Watson Foundation, Lucille Lortel Foundation, Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, Universal Music Group’s Task Force for Meaningful Change and William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust.
The Billie Holiday Theatre, Inc. is a proud member of the Coalition of Theatres of Color (CTC). Public funds are provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the Office of the Mayor of the City of New York with the support of Mayor Eric Adams, New York City Council (District 36) with the support of Councilmember Chi Ossé.
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